Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has revealed that more than 60 small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs are set to reap economic benefits whenever normalcy returns to the tourism sector, as they are slated to secure coveted shop spaces at the modern artisan village being created in Falmouth, Trelawny.
He said work was ongoing with various partners to bring back tourism to the Georgian town as quickly as possible and it is anticipated that when cruise shipping returns the pioneer tenants will be in place to offer a unique experience.
The Ministry of Tourism, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), is covering the construction cost for the Artisan Village and Minister Bartlett was recently updated on its progress during a visit with a technical team. The construction is being overseen by the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) on whose property it is being built, in close proximity to the Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier.
The $750 million earmarked for the artisan village programme is providing 64 shops and facilities for food and entertainment as well as artisans at work. Mr. Bartlett believes “it is an investment well worth it. It will be the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean and is going to enable us to have space for production and marketing, with a mix of cultural assets that Jamaica has, to be presented to the visitors when they come here.”
“It is very important that we have artisans here so that when the visitors come, they can have a design that they give to an artisan, proceed on their tour and on their return collect a truly authentic finished product to take onboard the ship with them,” said Minister Bartlett.
He sees this as a good marketing tool with visitors leaving with an authentic piece of Jamaica that will serve as a lasting symbol of their visit, while creating a desire among family and friends to also enjoy the unique experience that the destination provides.
“We want to be an integral part of that experience that is transmissible to the wider world through the people who come with items of jewelry, fashion and craft that will be made at the village and shown to a wider audience when they are worn by the purchasers, or presented as gifts,” he stated.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic causing some disruption in the construction industry, early imposition of safety protocols allowed for work to continue on site, but at a slower pace to ensure conformity.
The artisan village will carry a theme as “we’re making this into a really iconic attraction by itself,” said Minister Bartlett who outlined that “we are pulling on our culture, focusing on the history of the Falmouth area by characterizing its myths and storylines.”
While small and medium entrepreneurs will occupy the facility, management is also seen as an important factor. Minister Bartlett said “we’re going to go to the market for good managers for the project overall” as the government expects it to be properly and effectively managed and not go to waste. He expects that the tenants will also manage their areas effectively and grow their businesses.