Stop treating us like the forgotten middle child
Many residents of Lucea, Hanover, are lamenting the fact that over the decades, stakeholders in the seaside town have not managed to develop facilities to encourage tourists to stop there while traversing the town on their way to neighbouring Negril.
"Lucea is positioned between two of Jamaica's biggest tourism areas - Montego Bay and Negril. And over the years, I think we have not been able to capitalise on any of the money that flows in between them. Why? We really don't have what it takes to relieve the tourists of their money or encourage them to stop in Lucea and partake of something that is beneficial to us," said Dr David Stair, custos rotulorum of Hanover, during The Gleaner's Job Creation, Investment and Growth Forum, in Lucea recently.
Dr Stair's position was supported by the Reverend Glenroy Clarke, pastor of the Lucea United Church, and Nerris Hawthorne, president of the Lucea Development Initiative, who joined in bemoaning the fact that attractions with tourism potential, such as Fort Charlotte, remain undeveloped despite multiple promises made by the island's tourism authorities.
"We will need the TEF (Tourism Enhancement Fund) to pump some money into the town, because we have tourists coming right through the town, from Montego Bay to Negril, and they just drive through Lucea because there is nothing for them to see," said Hawthorne.
"So it would be right for the powers that be to see that there is a need to help, financially, to develop our prime areas like Fort Charlotte. The development of Fort Charlotte ... that's a must; and it's taking too long. There should be no excuse because TEF has got funding and they can take that up," added Hawthorne.
"Geographically, where Hanover is poised, in relation to Negril, offers itself an opportunity and, I think, going forward, that's one of the ways we can tap into that opportunity," said Clarke.
"Most of the tourists who go to Negril pass through Lucea, and we have not, over the years, found a way to even allow them to stop for five minutes - and that is a low-hanging fruit, in itself - even for a rest stop."
Orane Kentish, director of the Lucea chapter of the Jamaica Union of Travellers Association (JUTA), said as a tour operator, he was dismayed that efforts were not made to capitalise on business opportunities such as offering shopping experiences, which arose with the opening of the Grand Palladium Hotel in Lucea.
"You have tourists who want to visit the town. We have the Grand Palladium here, and many times guests want to go shopping, but there is nowhere in Lucea to do that," said Kentish.
"Last week, some guests came by the taxi desk and said they wanted to go to Lucea to shop, and they had to go to Negril," he said.