Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer
PORT ANTONIO, Portland:
AFTER SPENDING more than a quarter of a century helping to develop and revitalise tourism in Portland, Cecile Mcquennie remains committed to the task ahead in restoring the pride and joy to the birthplace of that sector.
Mcquennie, who is now an active member of the revived Tourists Resort Board (TRB) Portland chapter, is optimistic that the days ahead could see a direct turn around in the fortunes of Port Antonio, the cradle of tourism, which is lagging behind in all aspects of that industry.
"We are already at the bottom of the barrel," said Mcquennie. "The only way out now is for us to slowly climb that ladder and to reclaim some of those glory days, which earlier allowed us to be ranked among the finest, picturesque, and pristine beauty of a tourist destination worldwide.
For this to be a reality, all tourism interests and industry players will have to stand united and work hand in hand. One of the drawbacks for this parish is that there are more talkers than movers."
The TRB Portland chapter member boast an illustrious career in tourism development and other related matters, which started at Fern Hill All-inclusive hotel in 1987 as a house-keeping receptionist.
She would later go on in the 1990s to hold senior positions at hotels in the parish including Dragon Bay Beach Resort, San San, and Frenchman's Cove hotel.
But while Mcquennie is eyeing a tourism revival for Portland, she is cautioning tourism interests not to make the same mistakes of the past, where several projects including a marine park was started, but was later abandoned, to set whatever differences they have aside.
Mcquennie added: "When we were at the apex of tourism, other destinations such as Ocho Rios, Falmouth, and Montego Bay, were unattractive. Today, the situation is reversed, as the physical, economical, financial, and social growth of this parish is at a standstill, and it is up to this present generation to reverse that trend."