Dozens of people got an up-close, first-hand look at the new Ocho Rios Fishing Village, St Ann at the official opening yesterday, Thursday, July 12.
The Village at the western exit from Ocho Rios, backs onto Island Village Plaza and is in the direct path of tourists exiting at the Reynolds Pier. Some of the shops have been operating for a few weeks now, before the official opening.
The Village is made to keep some of the ambiance of the old fishing village where fisher folk sold fresh fish and operated restaurants and shops for locals and visitors. But also, it has modern storage and sanitary facilities, well designed open spaces and rest spots.
The new Village drew favourable comments from people who turned out to the formal opening and went into the craft shops, bars and restaurants, some of which are not yet completed with their fixtures and stock. Others were wowed by the transformation and also surprised that local people were in charge of the shops.
The Ocho Rios Fishing village features a great deal of wood in its structure, including the walk from the streets down to the fishing beach where new facilities have been prepared for fishermen still allowed access there. That’s next to a beach that opens from an open-design two-storey building with promenade facing the Ocho Rios Bay. One of Ocho Rios’ many streams runs all the way through the complex next to outdoor seating.
At Thursday evening’s opening it was highlighted that many of the vendors who had been occupying small shacks in the former village were not occupants and operators of the businesses on the Village.
The Port Authority of Jamaica was responsible for the transformation of the area and ensured that the former occupants retained rights to the shops. Professor Gordon Shirley, head of the Port Authority of Jamaica, congratulated the vendors and the Port Authority team that worked in getting the complex ready. He said there was still another phase to complete the project. Prof Shirley said the original tenants had rights of first refusal and the Authority had brought in HEART NTA and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation to help them with their business competence.
Among other speakers were Karl Samuda, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation; Shahine Robinson, MP for the area and Minister of Labour and Social Security and Michael Belnavis, Chairman of the St Ann Municipal Corporation.