TPDCo, TEF upgrading Lyssons Beach
Paul H. Williams, Hospitality Jamaica Writer
Ainsley Henriques was born in Stanton, St Thomas, and spent much of his youthful days at Lyssons Beach, where he learned to swim. When he moved to the Corporate Area, he would still use the beach when he visited relatives.
But the property, located near the capital town of Morant Bay and managed by the St Thomas Parish Council, was not properly maintained. It was derelict for about 35 years, strewn with much garbage, and overgrown with bushes, Henriques recently told Hospitality Jamaica. A tree, he said, was growing from a toilet bowl, and there were unpaid utility bills, among other issues.
So about 13 years ago, for sentimental and other reasons, Henriques, through a company called Eastern Attractions Limited, leased the property, with funding from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica.
OPEN TO PUBLIC
It has remained open to the public since then, free of admission fees. Money for utility bills and cleaning the property is raised from parking fees, bathroom passes, events charges, but over time, the property again needed on upgrade.
Then, late last year, the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), with funding from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), intervened under its TEF Beach Upgrade Programme, and phase one of the project started in February.
When Hospitality Jamaica visited with Henriques, work was going on in earnest at some points. A driveway, gazebos, changing rooms, showers, lifeguard stations, a new sewerage, and a terraced walkway were under construction or repair. Garbage, washed on to the property by heavy rains, was strewn all over, hence the need for proper drainage.
Henriques said a peripheral fence is also desirable to separate the property from the main road for security purposes. There will still be no admission fees upon completion.
This is in line with the philosophy of Jamaica tourism agencies that beaches of certain standards must be available to the Jamaican people in the interest of the industry and sustainable tourism development.
The Lyssons Beach Rehabilitation and Project Upgrading Programme is managed on behalf of Eastern Attractions Limited by TPDCo. It is one of several such programmes being undertaken across the island. Burwood Beach in Trelawny and Boston Beach in Portland were also upgraded.
Lyssons Beach is relatively shallow and the water calm. There is a narrow reef beyond which swimming is not encouraged. A large outdoor space, ideal for big events, is also one of its features. To the west, there is a spectacular view of the mountains. It is one of St Thomas' natural treasures.