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PAJ supports marquee attraction for MoBay

Published:Thursday | June 23, 2016 | 6:00 AMMark Titus
Shirley

Western Bureau:

The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) has thrown its support behind the recent call by business stakeholders in Montego Bay for the establishment of a signature attraction in the tourist resort to help boost its tourism appeal.

Montego Bay, dubbed the nation's tourist capital, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Western Hemisphere. However, many feel it is failing to capitalise on the thousands of cruise ship passengers it welcomes weekly because of the absence of a marquee attraction.

In his keynote address at the recent Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry's development forum in the western city, Professor Gordon Shirley, the president and chief executive officer of the state-owned PAJ, said the organisation is currently seeking to establish a major attraction for each cruise destination in Jamaica.

Insofar as Montego Bay is concerned, Shirley said he was fully supportive of the plan for the re-establishment of a Montego Bay-to-Appleton Estate railroad attraction.

long overdue

"We think that the scenic train route from Montego Bay to Appleton is long overdue and we need to get that back in place," said Shirley, noting that such a venture could be just as exciting as a cruise passenger travelling from Montego Bay to Dunns' River (Falls), a journey of 90 minutes both ways, to spend one hour.

"The rail already exists, and we have some wonderful towns along the route," continued Shirley.

" ... there are investors who are interested in doing it, so we are raising our voice ... this would be good for Montego Bay, not only for cruise passengers, but also stopovers."

In addition, The Gleaner understands that the Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC) has been exploring the possibility of reviving the Montego Bay-to-Kingston route as a tourism product.

Based on the projections for the Montego Bay-to-Appleton tour, it is estimated that the trip, to include the tour of the Appleton Estate, would take approximately four hours at most, which means passengers would return to Montego Bay in time to rejoin their cruise vessels.

Gloria Henry, the president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, also supports the idea, saying it would be a plus for the western region.

She said St Kitts and Nevis has similar products.

mark.titus@gleanerjm.com