Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
Western Bureau:Despite economic uncertainties, there is optimism in western Jamaica among several stakeholders who believe 2013 will be a prosperous year for the region.
Having successfully bid to have branches of the Firearm Licensing Authority and the Companies Office of Jamaica established in Montego Bay in 2011, the president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Davon Crump, will be gunning to reposition the city as the premier tourist destination in the Caribbean.
"Montego Bay needs to once again become the preferred tourist-city destination," said Crump, who thinks the city badly needs a signature attraction.
"This can be done if a partnership is forged between the Government and private sector to actively seek investors to build a Disney World or Atlantis-type family attraction that will attract visitors from all over the world," added Crump.
Crump is adamant that the lottery scam, which has proven to be destructive and dangerous, must be eliminated if St James is to become prosperous in the New Year.
HOPING f0r CRUISE REVIVAL
The astute Crump, who has watched Montego Bay steadily lose business to Falmouth over the past two years, especially in the area of cruise shipping, is hopeful that the planned upgrade and expansion of the Montego Freeport docking facilities will create jobs and inject more revenue into the city's economy.
In St Elizabeth, which is fast becoming an economic powerhouse - especially in the Treasure Beach area, where sports tourism and environmental tourism, are taking solid roots - hopes are high heading into 2013.
"The Black River Market is to be completed in the New Year, and the second phase of that project will be to link the river and the market so that our boat-tour guests can have a full experience of what we have to offer," said businessman Jason Henzell, the chairman of the parish's development committee.
In the rapidly developing Treasure Beach area, a number of luxury villas are slated to be constructed. There are also solid plans afoot for the expansion of eco- and educational tours; the establishment of a destination marketing programme, through the volunteer group Breds; and the development of Lover's Leap Challenge - an adventure-based attraction.
In terms of safety and security, the Police High Command is looking at fixing western Jamaica's crime problem, which has been fuelled mainly by activities surrounding the lottery scam. Special emphasis will be placed on the Hanover Police Division, which was rocked by several high-profile crimes earlier this year.
"We are looking to reduce murders by 50 per cent," said Superintendent Lynford Rhooms, Hanover's new commanding officer. "A 30 per cent drop in other crimes will also be an ideal result in our thrust to maintain our status as a safe parish, and this is what we are pushing for."
In the sugar sector, which is a major source of employment in the region, stakeholders are quite optimistic that the Long Pond Estate, the Hampden Estate - home to the popular Rum Fire rum, and the Frome Sugar Factory, will all measure up to their full potential.
"With more money being invested, 2013 looks a good prospect in terms of both employment and production in the sector," said Ambassador Derrick Heaven, the chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority.