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Tourism renewal coming for Kingston, Bartlett pledges

Published:Wednesday | February 16, 2022 | 12:07 AMSharlene Hendricks/Staff Reporter

AS THE Government seeks to steadily ease COVID-19 restrictions implemented under the Disaster Risk Management Act, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has indicated that Kingston will be receiving major focus for revitalisation of tourism and gastronomy.

“Kingston is poised for very strong tourism activity,” Bartlett told The Gleaner in an interview on Friday.

Responding to concerns that travel requirements for the fully vaccinated into Kingston had stifled tourism in the nation’s capital, Bartlett offered reassurance to stakeholders that the ministry has mapped out a plan to revitalise the municipality’s tourism sector.

Falling within the scope of the Government’s long-term goals to redevelop downtown Kingston, the tourism minister gave indication that aspects of these plans will unfold as a new normal with COVID-19 evolves, and restrictions are incrementally lifted.

“Port Royal, the downtown Kingston redevelopment, areas like Rae Town are going to come into play for attention based on the fact that Kingston is being strategically positioned for tourism.

“I see Kingston becoming the centre for gastronomy with places like Devon House having a very significant role in delivering that experience,” said Bartlett, explaining that already, a task force of stakeholders from the entertainment industry had been assembled to look at creating a gastronomy zone along Hope Road.

“I have been talking with some of groups in entertainment who have established a strong task force on events and entertainment which includes the gastronomy side of Kingston, and there is a proposal for a gastronomy zone here in Kingston.

“We are looking at Half-Way Tree, all the way up to Papine where on both sides of the road at the moment there are well over 100 restaurants and eateries. And of course, there is Knutsford Boulevard where the hotels are.

“So, it’s all about how we build out in these areas and provide incentives to generate the support and the capital to build out the experiences across Kingston,” said the minister.


Turning to the Air B and B sector, Bartlett admitted that Kingston would have been worst hit with fully vaccinated travellers required to quarantine for eight days, and the unvaccinated for 14 days.

Over the weekend, reactions from operators of the Trench Town Culture Yard museum were that revenues had taken a sharp dive, with activities for reggae icon Bob Marley’s birthday cancelled.

But the minister urged for patience, signalling that more announcements are to come regarding the lifting of other restrictions impacting the industry.

“Places like Trench Town is a direct function of how the protocols themselves globally have been affecting Air B and B. And because Trench Town is driven heavily by Air B and B they would have felt that impact.

“But as we move further towards less and less restrictions, places like Trench Town will come back into play and the prime minister will have some more things to say about how some of these areas are going to be brought back into play in short order.”

Also to come are amendments to the Tourism Act that will see more requirements for licensing of small business and community tourism entrepreneurs “to enable higher standards and quality control within the industry.

“I think that with COVID management, immediate and post-COVID, we are going to have to look at how we can strengthen our ability to make our neighbours and our source markets have the confidence in the destination, that we are indeed safe, secure and seamless.

“We are looking also at how to ensure that the regulatory and legislative arrangements protect the visitors, the entrepreneurs, as well as the partners. That’s really the purpose of the amendments. It’s giving certainty to the stakeholders that our tourism industry is resilient and protected, and that it’s also their responsibility to ensure visitors’ safety and satisfaction.”