Tuesday 22 October, 2019

Holness appears to have settled the score on ‘Welcome to MoBay’ sign

Prime Minister Andrew Holness
 (file photo)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (file photo)

Up to Saturday night it was Prime Minister Andrew Holness who fired the last salvo in what has been deemed in some circles as an exorbitant $17 million price-tag for the construction and outfitting of a new ‘Welcome to Montego Bay’ sign in St James.

The prime minister, who conceded that the cost of the project is indeed high, nevertheless noted that the sign, which is under construction at the Sangster International Airport (SIA) roundabout, is to play a significant role in the marketing of Jamaica as a prime tourism destination.

The recent block-laying exercise to commence the construction of the $17 million welcome sign in Montego Bay.

"We want to make the sign iconic. When tourists come in, we want them to stop and run and go take selfies at the sign. As much as you believe that that might be a waste of resources, when that sign is circulated all over the world you can't pay for that advertising," the prime minister stated at a town hall meeting in Montego Bay on Thursday night.

Eyebrows have been raised following the announcement that the project to construct the sign is likely to cost $17 million. The Opposition People's National Party (PNP) has been among the critics who questioned why the project has such a high cost.

In the face of growing public outcry, Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, ordered a review of the cost of the project.

Prime Minister Holness expressed full agreement with Bartlett's call for a review of the price to erect the welcome sign.

In March of this year, the original sign was mowed down during a car crash which claimed the lives of two men.

It was reported that a Nissan Tiida motorcar with four men on board was travelling along Queens Avenue in Montego Bay, when on reaching in the vicinity of the roundabout at the airport, the driver lost control of the vehicle, which hit the sign and overturned.

Two of the occupants died on the spot, while the other men were rushed to hospital, where they were admitted in serious conditions.

Last Saturday during the block laying ceremony for the new welcome sign, Bartlett argued that the "aesthetic appeal of this curved-bay-shaped sign, adorned with contemporary textures and a tropical turquoise colour, with lush landscaping, clean, white, bold lettering and white cuboid forms on the background, truly reflect effort and meticulousness in welcoming our guests.

"As a beacon of innovation, the sign will stand illuminated with varying colours during the nights, with the option of being distinguished when required. This will aid in better celebration of seasons for the 'Montego Bay', as the dominant letters will be able to reflect the associated colours of each respective season," Bartlett further remarked.

During the event, Chairman of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Ian Dear, argued that "this initiative under the Eastern Gateway Project, will take the form of concrete, bold colours, flora and fauna, but its true essence embodies the warm welcome it will give the local and international community,"

In a release from the Montego Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), the chamber expressed that while it supports the standards of products to be used for the sign, it is concerned about the budgeted $17 million cost of the project.

The project is to be funded by the TPDCo, with assistance from the private sector, including the MBCCI.

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