Bartlett bemoans the state of Negril
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says the resort town of Negril is suffering from the effects of poor spatial and infrastructural planning, which has continued in the half a century since the town was identified as a tourism Mecca.
Bartlett, who was speaking at a recent Negril Chamber of Commerce meeting, which was called to highlight issues relating to the town's haphazard development and shabby state, bemoaned the fact that despite being a premier tourism destination, the town is lacking in so many critical ways.
"Negril is our third largest tourism centre in arguably the Caribbean and Negril, has not been developed in a very structured way, although it could, because Negril was one of the few places that was identified very early in the years when tourism was being seen as a possible pathway for economic development," said Bartlett.
"And, therefore, when the lands were all bought up in some areas and when the beachfront was identified, tourism was in the back of the minds of the governance at the time ... ," continued Bartlett.
"But nothing happened in a structured, planned and organised way, so that the carrying capacity of Negril to drive the volume of visitors to begin with, and the density of rooms was never, ever built in. So we ended up without a proper sewage system; without a proper water system; without a proper electrification system."
"We ended up without a municipality that would manage the central services and the basic services of Negril," said Bartlett. "So now we have to look, almost after the horse has gone through the gate, on how do we retrofit, how do we step back one inch in order to step forward a foot."
Reversing Negril's decay
Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism, said that since he last met with the Negril Chamber of Commerce a year ago, he had been putting the institutional framework in place for the proper management of Negril and other resort towns via destination assurance councils and destination assurance managers.
Those, he said, would replace resort boards and "reverse some of the decay" in the areas where projects are funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund.
The tourism minister said that the councils would consist of no "political elements" but would be composed of senior parish representatives of key ministries, departments and agencies, which are vital to the execution of resort development. They would also include chairman of the local authorities, tourism stakeholders, and a chairperson who will be appointed by him.