Upgraded Fisherman's Beach opens in Ocho Rios

Monday, August 06, 2018

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TOURISM stakeholders in Ocho Rios are beaming with pride, following the opening of a state-of-the-art fishing village.

The $220-million upgrade of Fisherman's Beach now shares top billing rights with calibre attractions, such as Dunn's River Falls, Mystic Mountain and Dolphin Cove.

President of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), Professor Gordon Shirley, who was on hand for the July 12 opening, said the new fishing village will “certainly assist” in changing the economic fortunes of Ocho Rios and will also be an extraordinarily huge boost to the already exciting tourism product.

He added that the fact that Jamaica can now claim another signature attraction will ensure that “we remain the attraction capital of the Caribbean”.

“Having Fisherman's Beach in the mix will elevate the tourism fortunes of Ocho Rios and by extension Jamaica to levels we have never seen before,” Professor Shirley said.

He said his confidence has also been boosted by the fact that officials of some of the major cruise lines have already been warming to the fishing village and have promised their full support.

“We are expecting this facility, which will be occupied and run by the tandem of local business people and also the local fishermen, to live up to what is expected from a major attraction,” he added.

For her part, Minister of Labour and Social Security, and Member of Parliament for the area, Shahine Robinson, said she is very happy that the fishing village is now a reality and that the people of Ocho Rios now have “another special attraction” as part of the tourism product.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this will be a tremendous success. There is also no doubt in my mind that the local occupants will be doing everything they can to protect and nurture this once in a lifetime investment and one which can and will change their economic fortunes,” she said.

Mayor of St Ann's Bay, Michael Belnavis, said it is pleasing that the PAJ has taken the stance that the facility will be controlled and run by local business people and also the fishermen, adding that this speaks volumes to the concept of “inclusiveness” within the tourism industry.

“As our Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has been consistently preaching, it is very important that we all…not just a few…feel that tourism is for everyone,” he added.

The PAJ, as part of its development plan for the town (Ocho Rios), has also started work to upgrade the neighbouring multipurpose Reynolds Pier, giving it a complete facelift and making it more visitor-friendly. There are also plans to build a walking promenade from the pier through the fishing village all the way on to Main Street in the town.

Mr Belnavis said he has been closely monitoring the progress of all the projects and is confident the PAJ will meet all its timelines. “I am happy with everything I have been hearing and I know the people will benefit,” he added.

Meanwhile, president of the Sailor's Hole Benevolent Society, Orville Grant, said he is happy with the vision being shown by the PAJ, noting that this will be an opportunity for the local fishermen to have a ready market to sell their catch, in an environment that is conducive to business.

“Everyone is happy with how this has turned out and we will now have to do our part to maintain the attraction and to ensure that our visitors have a great experience so they will want to come back,” Grant said.

Local businessman, Marcus King, said he cannot thank the PAJ enough for this opportunity.

“Where else can you find ordinary Jamaicans like myself getting this kind of opportunity on a prime beachfront property? The PAJ must be commended for keeping its word and for having the vision to do this kind of investment,” he said.

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