Letters to the Editor

Time to focus on 'the forgotten parish'

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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Dear Editor,

As recent as April of this year I visited St Thomas for Easter holidays and I was very disheartened at the lack of development of the parish.

This is a parish in which I spent most of my summer holidays while growing up as my family is from here; hence, I have a special love and appreciation for it.

To my surprise, little if anything has improved.

After I left Morant Bay and proceeded to Seaforth, Serge Island, and Trinity Ville, and then to Cedar Valley, the roads were basically non-existent. It was the most uncomfortable journey of my entire life. Something must be done urgently about the roads in this parish. The hard-working citizens of St Thomas deserve so much better.

During my visit to the place which many consider the forgotten parish I also noticed that there is little to no economic and social development. Most citizens of the parish still rely on farming as means of income to support themselves and their families. The rest of Jamaica continues to grow exponentially while it appears as if time has stopped in St Thomas. This should not be. The Government of Jamaica, the St Thomas Municipal Corporation and other stakeholders need to hold serious discussions on how to include St Thomas in its growth agenda for the country.

St Thomas is a hidden gem with endless potential and possibilities waiting to be discovered, especially with regards to the tourism sector. Numerous attractions and accommodations, such as Reggae Falls, Bath, Mineral Springs, hostels, Airbnb properties, the world-famous Blue Mountain range, among countless other areas for lucrative development, can assist in recreating the narrative of this part of the island.

We need to begin serious discussions about contemporary approaches to tourism campaigns which should include St Thomas, as well as help find innovative ways of attracting visitors to the parish. Also, we need to assess St Thomas's image and its ability to attract foreign direct investment and opportunities for leveraging products and services for economic benefit.

No longer can we sit idly by and watch this beautiful parish fade away into obscurity. It has so much to offer to Jamaica and the rest of the world. We need capitalise on the potential it has so that the economic and social well-being of the citizens can be significantly improved.

O'Neil D Phipps

drphippsfortis@gmail.com

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