Bartlett orders review of 'Welcome to Montego Bay' sign - Private sector to pump $5 million into project

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has ordered a full review of the costs associated with the budgeted $17 million for the 'Welcome to Montego Bay' sign and attraction, which is currently under construction at the Sangster International Airport roundabout in St James. Bartlett has instructed the permanent secretary in the ministry to conduct the review.

In a statement yesterday, the ministry also noted that private sector interests in Montego Bay, St James, including some members of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have committed support for the building of the new sign and attraction and will provide financial support amounting to $5million for its execution.

With the input of the private sector, government's financial input will be significantly reduced.

In explaining the move to provide financial support, prominent businessman John Byles said, "We believe that this welcome sign will be a significant addition to the allure and prestige of the city of Montego Bay. The city represents the heartbeat of tourism and deserves a monument that will be fitting for our guests and locals, and as such, we are more than willing to help mitigate the costs to erect it."

In the meantime, Godfrey Dyer, chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), is downplaying recent concerns about the possible accident hazard posed by the new 'Welcome to Montego Bay' sign.

"The sign is being done by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), and when we got the complaints, they brought in the National Works Agency (NWA) to check and ensure that everything is okay with the safety features. The NWA has approved the height of the sign, and they feel that as it is, it is safe," Dyer said.

Destroyed in crash

 Criticism arose this week concerning the new sign's construction, which is to replace the previous 'Welcome to Montego Bay' concrete sign following its destruction during a motor vehicle crash in March. The criticism has centred on the project's $17 million cost and its risk of restricting drivers' view of the roadway.

In a statement released on Tuesday, TPDCo said several safety features would be installed near the new sign to protect road users, including speed strips and fresh road markings.

The sign will include illuminated letters, site landscaping, and an irrigation system. It is slated for completion before the start of the winter tourist season on December 15.


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