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Tourist destination status for St Thomas | News

by Staff

FOR DECADES, St Thomas has oft been referred to as the ‘forgotten parish’. Yet, it is a place steeped in history and heritage and is endowed with some spectacular natural features, for nature has given St Thomas more than its fair share of beauty.

It’s a nature lover’s destination with its always lush vegetation, long and majestic mountain ranges, meandering rivers, sparkling waterfalls, the pink-sand beach at Mammee B, hiking trails, coffee plantations, the Bath Botanical Gardens, and, of course, the cloud-covered Blue Mountains at the extreme north of the parish. The fascinating Yallahs Salt Ponds have their own story, and so does the therapeutic Bath Fountain. Bath, incidentally, was the first real tourist resort in Jamaica, as afflicted Europeans would come to be healed by its piping hot sulphuric waters.

And within the beauty of nature are man-made structures that tell so much about the parish’s history and heritage. All over, there are well-preserved historical buildings and ruins. A tour of it is like walking through an open-air museum and the pages of a Jamaican history book, in which you will see Three Finger Jack monument, brick oven towers, the ruins of the Morant Bay Courthouse and the cannons-guarded fort at the back, the old Bowden Wharf, Stokes Hall Castle Ruins, the Old Cemetery at Lyssons, remnants of plantation sugar works, and the Morant Point Lighthouse, and so much more.

Now, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has big tourism plans for St Thomas to inspire the development of tourism in that eastern parish, where a new town centre is now under construction. The minister wants the parish to be Jamaica’s newest tourist destination.

In a meeting last week with German leisure, travel and tourism company TUI Group, it was confirmed that the company is exploring expanding its footprints in Jamaica and is showing signs of interest to invest in St Thomas, according to the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB). And, Minister Bartlett is pushing for such plans to include St Thomas, “the ideal location”, while ensuring sustainable tourism practices.

“Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett made the investment pitch during a meeting earlier today (Thursday, March 7) with senior TUI Group executives and his senior tourism team at the TUI Group office in Berlin,” the JTB says.

NEW INVESTMENT FRONTIER

The Government of Jamaica’s Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project, which has provided much publicity for the parish of late, is touted as the vehicle to drive St Thomas into a new investment frontier, as it will facilitate ease of movement, especially between the parish and Norman Manley International Airport.

“St Thomas has become extremely attractive and is ripe for investment as this highway development comes onstream. It only makes sense that as we diversify our tourism products, that we zero in on the possibilities that exist in the parish.

“I am happy that our long-standing partner, TUI Group, continues to show confidence in the destination by including Jamaica in its expansion plans. This future mega investment will translate to more jobs and opportunities for communities and will be a game changer for the parish,” said Bartlett.

TUI Group senior executives, led by their CEO of markets and airlines, David Schelp, reconfirmed their strong partnership with Jamaica as one of its key destinations in the Caribbean. Considered the largest travel company in the world, it is also the leading tour operator for Germans travelling to Jamaica.

The discussions also included potential growth for flights in summer 2025, a curated Jamaica cruise itinerary that would explore home porting around the island’s ports, and the establishment of a distinguished TUI lecture series to promote tourism and tourism resilience.

“The pandemic has shown that partnerships are critical in building resilience and sustaining tourism activities. As one such partner, TUI Group is a key component in Jamaica’s tourism growth strategy and we look forward to building out this new phase of expansion,” Bartlett also said.

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