The Porto Bello community centre in St James, has been transformed from a shell to a lovely edifice, thanks to the Tourism Product Development Company Ltd (TPDCo). The transformation has come at a cost of four point seven million dollars ($4.7M) and includes completion of bathrooms, installation of doors, windows and kitchen cupboards, completion of flooring, electrical works to the building, painting and landscaping of the environs.
The project which was executed by the St James Municipal Corporation is part of the Spruce Up initiative by the Ministry of Tourism, aimed at facilitating sustainable livelihoods through job creation, training, sound environmental practices, participation of local communities in local area development and facilitation of small and medium tourism enterprises.
Speaking at the official opening of the centre on Thursday July 16, Minister of Tourism Hon Edmund Bartlett said “Spruce Up seeks to create harmony between tourism and local communities. It also speaks to a greater appreciation of how inclusive growth and equity is achieved through tourism. Community tourism has become increasingly popular among our younger and more adventurous visitors who want to explore the island beyond the resort walls. We must create a safe and efficient space for locals and visitors alike who are curious about the life of Jamaicans.” He encouraged the citizens to take care of the facility and to challenge themselves to be a positive influence.
Meanwhile member of parliament for St James Central, Heroy Clarke who received many commendations for his efforts in petitioning TPDCO for the project, thanked the organization for the consistent efforts. According to Clarke, “the place was like a jungle and today we have done well. I’m very proud. We can now look at community tourism in a more serious way.”
Dr Andrew Spencer, Executive Director of TPDCo, in his remarks reminded the residents of the power of a community centre. “Community Tourism is the vehicle to achieving community development in a powerful way. You must use the space to revitalize and stimulate activity in the community of Porto Bello. The centre has the power of pulling people together and allowing for experiential tourism. Tourists want to experience the real Jamaica.”
For the 2019-2020 period TPDCo completed some fourteen (14) major Spruce Up Projects all aimed at community development.