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Leaders expect the $12m Negril sign will boost foot traffic in the area


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Major development plans, including an additional 5,000 hotel rooms, are on the drawing board for Negril over the next five years.

In fact, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has hinted at the western Jamaica town being given a status that would remove it from the dual management it now has between Hanover and Westmoreland.

Top-level discussions have started between multiple government ministries and stakeholders of Negril on aspects of the development to be rolled out over time.

And, with tourism being a critical component, Minister Bartlett on Friday spoke of some things to come as he gave the keynote address at the unveiling of a multi-colored Negril ‘welcome sign’ at the eastern end of the resort town known as the “Capital of Casual”.

The $12-million sign features a lay-by and walkway, retaining wall, landscaping, and the fabrication of letters in red, green, and gold, reflecting the “vibe” of Negril. It also comes with solar lighting, which helps with its visibility at night and its sustainability.

Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company Ltd (TPDCo), Wade Mars, has dubbed the Negril ‘welcome sign’ the JAM-ICONIC photo experience. And, like him, Bartlett anticipates that, in addition to boosting the aesthetic of the resort area, the sign will also act as a catalyst to attract greater foot traffic to the area.

The tourism executives said research has shown that accessible photo experiences within destinations provide visitors with an additional incentive to travel longer and further to capture these scenic shots as part of their vacation experience. 

It is, therefore, intended that the existence of these sites will also provide the home destination with user-generated content for marketing, which has a multiplier effect in attracting audiences.

TPDCo has mapped out a program to boost tourism within rural communities and add aesthetic appeal to destination areas using the JAM-ICONIC photo experiences to highlight protected areas such as natural skylines, national parks, and gardens, for instance, the Cockpit Country, Blue Mountain, as well as destinations like Negril, panoramic views of Jamaica’s historic plains, waterways, and towns.

On the cards for development in Negril, according to the minister, are close to 5,000 new rooms, including a 1000-room hotel at Rhodes Hall, a new property at Ocean Pointe, and expansions of the Princess, Palladium, Sandals, and Beaches properties.

With a commitment to the development of public spaces in Negril, Bartlett said, to start, the ‘Seven Miles’ beach park is to be transformed, modeling the Harmony Beach Park in Montego Bay, St James, though not being as elaborate.

He said the proposed plan has the support of Prime Minister Andrew Holness and that it is part of a bigger plan to create appealing public parks in resort areas “for the benefit of Jamaicans while inviting visitors to enjoy them”.

Negril has long enjoyed a special place in the hearts of visitors and with Jamaica making rapid strides in its recovery from the pandemic-related fallout, Minister Bartlett said the resort town has pulled in about one-third of the more than US$3 billion earned by the industry so far this year, which has led to Jamaica’s strongest and best-ever summer tourism season that just ended.

The plans for Negril have been welcomed by stakeholders in the area.

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