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Clampdown on parties costing millions

Published:Wednesday | March 3, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Adrian Frater, New Editor

Business operators in Negril say they are losing huge sums because of the stringent implementation of the Noise Abatement Act.

"Right now my business is in ruins because I am no longer able to stage major events at MXIII," declared Clive 'Kubba' Pringle at a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum.

"I have spent millions of dollars in establishing this business over the past 20 years and I can't do anything there," Pringle lamented, as he bashed the police for shutting down the parties.

But Pringle's losses represent just a fraction of what Negril operators say they are racking up.

"Negril earns in excess of J$100 million daily from tourism, and contributes J$300 million to the Tourism Enhancement Fund annually," Lenbert Williams, chairman of the 80-member strong Negril and Western Jamaica Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, told
The Gleaner

According to Williams: "The insensitive manner in which the Noise Abatement situation is being handled by the police is threatening to destroy the town's earning power."

He claimed that with a fee of $25,000 per event and a minimum of four events each night, seven days every week, the West-moreland Parish Council was earning approximately $100, 000 per day or $700,000 each week - from events staged in Negril.

Substantial earnings

While chairman of the council Bertel Moore could not confirm the figures, he admitted that the parties and dances generated substantial earnings for the Council.

Moore appeared to endorse a proposal from Carey Wallace, president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, for the creation of special entertainment zones or entertainment centres away from the residential area, which would eliminate the noise nuisance factor.

According to Wallace, entertain-ment adds a special and unique flavour to tourism, and should therefore be the catalyst in any move to solidify and strengthen Negril's capacity as a premier vacation destination.

"Music is our strongest brand and we need to develop on it," said Wallace.

"If allowed to develop, music could be a unique addition to the traditional sea, sand and sun, which is also on offer at other destinations," Wallace added.

Wallace and company could get support from tourism minister Edmund Bartlett who recently told
The Gleaner
that the
Noise Abatement Act
was now under review, as it was having a negative impact on entertainment in its present form.

While noting that the police had the final call, Bartlett said events, which attract visitors to the island, should be considered for special designation.

"Once it is a calendar event that does not constitute a security threat, I believe permission can be granted," Bartlett said.