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COVID-19 delays completion of Artisan Village at Hampden Wharf

Published:Wednesday | April 15, 2020 | 12:17 AMLeon Jackson - Hospitality Jamaica Writer

A section of the Hampden Wharf in Falmouth, Trelawny, which is being refurbished.
A section of the Hampden Wharf in Falmouth, Trelawny, which is being refurbished.

The $700-million Artisan Village at Hampden Wharf in Falmouth has been delayed as a result of COVID-19.

The facility was scheduled for ­completion in March; however, with the virus causing chaos worldwide, the new attraction has been stopped indefinitely.

Dr Carey Wallace, chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the agency funding the construction of the project, revealed to Hospitality Jamaica last week that owing to the observation of government protocol of social distancing, work on the site has slowed significantly.

“Social distancing has to be maintained, and the number of people in any one area has to be maintained,” Dr Wallace stated, adding that as soon as the opportunity presents itself, work will resume.

Acknowledging that the tourism ­product was vital to the island’s economy, Dr Wallace also admitted that when the time comes, he and his team would be ready to join the recovery efforts of this unprecedented situation.

Up to Monday when this publication was going to print, some 72 Jamaicans had contracted the virus, while four persons had died. Worldwide, the death toll was at 118,683, while 1.9 million were afflicted with the disease.

Dr Wallace noted that in relation to the theming of the village, consultants were at the procurement stage. “That aspect of the village is on target,” he stated.

Craft trader Walford Forbes, who was looking forward to the opening of the village and the absence of COVID-19 from the island’s shores, said the virus was a disaster.

Still optimistic that the disaster will end one day, Forbes said he and other traders were promised that the village would help them to offer a wider variety of items to sell.

The Artisan Village is intended to offer Jamaicans and visitors a unique experience that includes music, food, cultural arts and craft. Jamaicans with creative abilities will get an opportunity to connect to the tourism value chain and provide products for visitors to take back home.

Rose-Marie Fullerton, a liaison officer in the village, sounded sad when she remarked that were it not for COVID-19, the multimillion-dollar building would be up and ready.

“The contractors would have connected the utilities and the village would be up and running,” she said.