Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer
PORT ANTONIO, Portland:
WORK ON the abandoned craft village at Allan Avenue in Portland, could begin before the end of this year, if the parish's Tourist Resort Board and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) have their way.
On Wednesday, a team headed by John Marsh, rural coordinator for TPDCo; Marcia Lawrence, chairman of the Tourist Resort Board Portland chapter; and Paul Smith, tourism specialist at the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), toured the craft-village facility.
"Funds can be made available through the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI)," said Smith. "Those funds are to assist with community-tourism development. We would definitely have an interest in this project. But, it is important to point out that the economic benefits to persons is paramount, and REDI is really about creating jobs and income. JSIF is about poor people and community development."
In 1998, then tourism minister, Francis Tulloch, announced that a $28-million state-of-the-art craft village was to be constructed at Allan Avenue to adequately house approximately 90 craft vendors who were operating at the rear of the Musgrave market in Port Antonio.
But, in 2002, work on the craft village was halted. Since then, the building has been ravaged by a number of elements including torrential rainfall and hurricanes.
According to Lawrence, once funding is secured, work will begin to complete stalls and booths, which can adequately accommodate craft vendors and other traders.