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Bartlett planning Spruce Up Jamaica clean-up campaign

Published:Wednesday | August 10, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has pledged to enter into fresh partnerships with the relevant stakeholders to revitalise the Spruce Up Jamaica clean-up campaign to promote proper waste management in Montego Bay, St James, as a means of protecting the city's tourism market.

"We will be picking up back on the Spruce Up Jamaica plan, which we are going to announce in September ... . Spruce Up One was a big success, and that is the whole business of building up the destination and the resorts, making enhancements to the resorts, and building of community relations," Bartlett told The Gleaner.

"The job of improving the infrastructure in the resort areas is a huge one, which we will have to partner with the National Works Agency and the National Solid Waste Management Authority, as well as the public health section of the Ministry of Health, to combat," said Bartlett, in outlining the stakeholders with which his ministry will seek to join hands to promote the environmental campaign.

Emphasis on development

The Spruce Up Jamaica programme was launched in May 2008, with emphasis on environmental and community development, promoting heritage and creation of partnerships through entrepreneurship.

"We are really going back to building out those key values that make for pristine resort areas on the basis of the destination assurance that we have preserved," Bartlett added.

"We feel that tourism is really a series of moving parts that have to all connect seamlessly to make the destination experience that we sell to the visitors a reality. It is not an action on only our part. It is an action on all the parts that must come together, meaning all the sectors and ministries that are important in doing these things."

In July 2011, Bartlett pushed an initiative in which 5,000 litter bags were distributed to taxi operators in St James as part of an anti-littering campaign. In August of that year, he also called for a bougainvillea beautification and development project in Montego Bay as part of efforts to promote proper waste-management practices, while also urging stricter enforcement of the Anti-litter Act.

Focus on public education

But despite these past efforts to reduce improper waste disposal by residents and promote better environmental practices, the issue of garbage being dumped into drains and gullies has persisted over the years, often resulting in sections of Montego Bay being flooded during significant periods of rain, as happened in the recent passage of Tropical Storm Earl.

When quizzed about the continued effects of improper waste disposal, Bartlett said his ministry would focus on educating residents about the correlation between a cleaner city and improved profits from tourism.

"This is why the public education element of it (environmental campaign) is so important. The civilians are the main beneficiaries because it is their economy that improves when tourism is strong, and it is their income that grows," said the tourism minister.