James Bond Beach in Oracabessa Bay, Jamaica

The Jamaican parish of St. Mary is a “potential area for sustainable tourism development,” due to the region’s natural beauty and cultural legacy, including its Taino and Maroon heritage, said Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s tourism minister, during a tour of the Caribbean nation’s potential tourism development sites.

Speaking to local media following a “reimaging exercise” tour of the region, Bartlett said, “As part of our commitment to reimagine destination Jamaica, we are committed to building out new experiences east of Oracabessa towards Port Antonio.”

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Bartlett undertook the tour to evaluate the Robin’s Bay and Golden Eye regions, along with area beaches and rivers, plus “all the public assets in St. Mary to determine the potential of the area to become a lifestyle tourism destination,” according to a Ministry of Tourism statement.

The Ministry’s technical team accompanied the tour as part of an initial assessment of the area, said officials in the statement. “What we envisage for this side of the island is of course low density and low carbon footprints to ensure minimal impact on the environment,” Bartlett said.

“We also want to look at the higher demographic in terms of the ability to attract higher average daily rates within this area,” he added.

Bartlett launched the initiative earlier this year as part of a destination development plan for Jamaica’s Negril district. Other areas to be surveyed include the St. Thomas, Clarendon and Port Antonio districts.

“The area has huge geophysical assets in terms of its beaches, waterfalls and rivers that can definitely be converted into tremendous experiences for tourism and the time is now for us to capitalize on this potential,” said Bartlett.