Work continues to upgrade more public beaches - PM
The Government is continuing work to improve more of Jamaica's public beaches in order to enable greater access to these facilities.
This assurance comes from Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who said that the Government is committed to doing everything possible to ensure "that the average Jamaican can have access to our beaches."
"The Ministry of Tourism, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), has been improving our beaches, and I know that there is a programme that is under way. For example, last month, the TEF spent $38.3 million to improve the Marking Stone Beach in St Mary," he said.
The prime minister was addressing the Government's Quarterly Press Briefing at Jamaica House on Wednesday.
Holness said he was aware that some of the island's public beaches are in such a deplorable condition that they limit access, hence the ongoing programme to upgrade these facilities.
"I want the public to know that the Government is hearing the concerns and that we have a programme in place (to improve the beaches). We are taking note, and I am certain next year, we will have a significant number of our beaches improve, so that the public can have access to what was given to us by God and cannot be taken away by any man," he said.
BEACH ACCESS AND MANAGEMENT POLICY
In the meantime, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, said that a draft Beach Access and Management Policy is now with Cabinet.
"As soon as it is deliberated, we will make it public, and if there is a requirement for further consultations, based on Cabinet directives, we will do so because what we want is a holistic policy that works for everybody - works for the investor and works for the public," Vaz said.
The Urban Development Corporation manages a number of the island's public beaches, including the Dunn's River Beach and the Ocho Rios Bay Beach in St Ann; the Fort Clarence Beach Park in St Catherine; and the Bluefields Beach Park and Long Bay Beach Park in Westmoreland.
The agency has explained that public access does not mean free access or unrestricted access but refers to accessing the recreational facility free from discrimination and preserving the right to book once the facility is available.
The corporation undertakes operational activities such as the provision of lifeguards, cleaning of the beach, and other exigencies, for which nominal fees are in place. In some instances, these fees are subsidised up to 80 per cent of market rates when compared with other privately operated facilities.