Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Letter of the Day | Put beach access on front burner

Published:Saturday | January 28, 2017 | 1:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I have been following closely, over the past few weeks, the discussion on access to good-quality public beaches initiated by Professor Carolyn Cooper in her Sunday Gleaner column.

Let me state at the outset that I accept that this problem exists and is an unacceptable situation. This, as it is my firm conviction that it is the right of all Jamaicans to have free access to some of our country's best beaches in perpetuity so that our children, grandchildren and future generations can enjoy their birthright.

While I acknowledge that more can always be done, during my term as minister of tourism, I set up a programme to secure first-class public beaches in every parish to which all Jamaicans would have free access.

Further, the modern amenities, such as bathrooms and changing rooms, would all be included, as well as children's playgrounds at some locations. All this could be funded and maintained through food concessions granted to local entrepreneurs.

In 2014 and 2015, the initial years, $230 million was allocated and 14 beaches were identified. Also during this period, two locations were completed, Boston Beach in Portland and Burwood Beach in Trelawny, and work, including concept designs, securing the land, surveys and contracts, had begun on a number of other properties, namely:

- Salem in St Ann.

- Great Bay, Crane Road and Fort Charles in St Elizabeth.

- Terminal Beach in Old Harbour, St Catherine.

- Lyssons in St Thomas.

- Annotto Bay and Pagee beaches in St Mary.

- Bulls Bay and Tryall beaches in Hanover.

- Old Hospital and Providence beaches in St James.

- Norman Manley in Negril.

In December 2015, an additional 19 beaches were identified for development by the Tourism Enhancement Fund, making a total of 33 beaches, with more to follow.

To my chagrin and disappointment, since the change in administration, this programme has not received the attention it deserves. I urge the present administration not to discard good policies and programmes and to put this project back on the priority agenda.

WYKEHAM MCNEILL

Former Minister of Tourism