Regional

'New dawn'

Trelawny looks to tourism to boost local economy

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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STEWART CASTLE, Trelawny—Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the development of the major township by Amaterra Group in Trelawny is the dawning of a new era for the parish's economy, which was once largely predicated on the cultivation of sugar cane.

"...It is to be reflected upon that we are now seeing 13,000 acres [in Trelawny] coming out of sugar. It took long for it to happen. So, the parish is coming into its own. So, yes, we are coming out of sugar, but we are going into other things with even greater potential," Holness argued.

"Mr Mayor [Councillor Colin Gager], good things will happen in your parish."

Chairman and founder of the Amaterra Group, Keith Russell, reflected that during the colonial days when sugar was "king",

Trelawny was the most successful agricultural, commercial and shipping parish in Jamaica.

"In 1738 Trelawny was totally undeveloped as a parish. It started developing after the peace treaty with the Maroons of 1738. After that, Trelawny became the most prosperous parish in Jamaica. At a time when Jamaica exported more or created more wealth for the Crown than any other territory including, North America, Trelawny was leading. This is where the wealth is. I believe we are revisiting that era. That Trelawny is where the wealth will come from, this is where will drive Jamaica's tourism, this is where will drive Jamaica's linkages and we hope this is where will give vision, motivation to the rest of Jamaica. We can do it," argued Russell, a former Jamaica Labour Party member of Parliament for Trelawny Northern.

They were speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for Amaterra Jamaica Limited's first resort, cited on just over 27 acres of prime beachfront property in Stewart Castle, Trelawny.

Surrounded by an amphitheatre-shaped ridge, the Amaterra resort will be a fully integrated, 800-room facility. This will be closely followed by the construction of another 400-room resort nearby.

The ground-breaking signifies the first step of the group's major integrated real estate development, which will incorporate tourism, commercial and other elements, spanning over 1,000 acres of property in Trelawny. Ultimately 8,000 hotel rooms will be constructed under the project.

The completed project will take the shape of a township, which will include resorts, entertainment facilities, theme parks, a pedestrian town centre, manufacturing facilities, Special Economic Zones, among other amenities.

Holness pointed out that the nation's hotel room stock will significantly soar upon completion of the build out of the 8,000 rooms.

"At this site in another few months you will have 1,200 rooms. We are doing 800 now, another 400 to come shortly thereafter. In total you are going to do 8,000 rooms... from the plans I have seen. Now, Jamaica's room stock is about 32,000 rooms, can you imagine that just one development is going to move it in short order to 40,000," Holness stressed.

Mayor of Falmouth, Colin Gager expressed pride that the development is the initiative of a native of the parish.

"What warms my heart even more and brings a sense of pride is that the Amaterra Group was founded and is being led by a Jamaican, but not only that, he is a noble and highly respected son of the soil. Commendation to you Mr Russell for attracting investors to Jamaican shores and, to our parish in particular," a beaming Gager commented.

"The development heralds a number of positives for our island and parish, namely, increased employment for our citizens, a boost for the tourism product and attraction for other investors to visit and utilise Trelawny."

For Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Audley Shaw, the integrated development is a plus for the trickling down effect on the wider community.

"I am happy about the integrated approach to the development, which is needed to bring about true economic benefit to the community in which the project is located. The plans to incorporate an agricultural component in the project aimed at supplying the fruits and vegetables that are needed by these hotels and by hotels along the entire north coast. The manufacturing of inputs for the hotel such as windows and furniture will also boost local business. So that integration is here. The water and renewable energy projects align the vision of the group with that of the need for sustainable development in the face of the increasing impact of climate change."

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett also welcomed the amalgamated approach.

"So it becomes a situation where the consumption and production patterns within the sector are significantly interwoven with an interest in ensuring that the people of the community are the main beneficiaries," Bartlett remarked.


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