Big boost for community tourism

BY ACEION CUNNINGHAM Observer West writer

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

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CAMROSE, St James — THE Ahhh... Ras Natango Gallery and Garden, located in the hilly community of Camrose, St James, has received a much-needed boost.

Last week, investors Mark Tucci and his wife Frances, of Custom Blends Jamaica Limited, announced that they have bought into the dream of Ian 'Ras Natango' Williams, his wife Tamika, and son Ayale -- owners of the tourist attraction.

The investment by the Tuccis has resulted in the purchase of a Toyota Noah minibus valued at $1.7 million, construction of a driveway leading to the property from the main road, building of a retaining wall, and installation of lights in the garden -- all of which form part of a major improvement plan for the lush property.

"For many years we have been negotiating for tour operators to transport tourists to the attraction, but these requests have for the most part been met with rejection due to the deplorable state of the road to the area. Now we will operate the bus as a free shuttle for guests to the attraction, instead of relying on others for transportation, and it will also act as an aggressive marketing tool for us," an elated Tamika, told the Observer West.

The capital injection has caused a wave of euphoria and optimism to flood the small community.

Residents have so far embarked on a beautification project in anticipation of more tourist arrivals to the attraction.

Beverly Thompson said she was happy with the latest developments in the community, "as the Williamses have always had the district at heart".

She added that the renewed community interest and pride being exhibited by residents have brought on a feeling of hope for the district.

The Williams were earlier this year awarded the prestigious Sam Sharpe award for community development through tourism.

The tourist attraction boasts a spectacular view of the city of Montego Bay.

Approved by the Jamaican Tourist Board and TPDCo, the garden boasts endemic flora and fauna and is a birders paradise.

It showcases some of Jamaica's rich heritage, while the gallery boasts fine art based on Jamaican life, culture, flora, and fauna.

Additionally, there is a small gift shop.

All the items at the gallery are made on the property, providing additional employment for members of the community.




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