The first “Jam-Iconic Experience” sign was unveiled on September 9, 2022, in Negril by Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett. The $12-million sign can be seen on the Hanover side of the resort town and includes lighting, landscaping, and palm trees. It is expected to increase tourism in rural areas and add appeal to destination areas as well as provide a photo experience for both tourists and locals. Bartlett told the Jamaica Observer that he believes it provides value for the money spent.
There was considerable surprise expressed when Bartlett announced in November 2018 that a $17-million iconic welcome sign would be built in Montego Bay in the roundabout near Sangster International Airport, and ultimately, the Ministry of Tourism had to revise the sign’s cost to $14.7 million in response to political and public pressures.
On September 9, 2022, however, Wade Mars, the executive director of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), which led the project, explained why the sign was necessary in Negril. According to Mars, a good sign attracts attention, communicates information, and effectively sends a message. A good sign increases brand awareness and has an important role in enhancing a space’s aesthetic appeal. While signs are generally taken for granted, he said, they are critical for wayfinding, particularly by people who are not familiar with an area.
Bartlett added that although there are “welcome” signs at parish borders across Jamaica, the sign in Negril will be the first to welcome tourists to a resort area. The designation of resort areas will go beyond the sign in Negril as welcome signs are planned for Montego Bay and Falmouth. The next one will be constructed in Ocho Rios.
The signage project is part of a re-imagining program under the umbrella of destination management of which public order is an important element, Bartlett said, adding that harassment of visitors, touting, and pimping are part of a disorder that plagues the system, so the Ministry has been creating destination assurance that will require a series of regulatory and legislative arrangements that will be developing in partnership with the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Education so that everyone will understand and follow the rules. The destination assurance manager will be responsible for maintaining the sign in Negril.
Mars said he was looking forward to seeing how the public reacts to the new sign and is eager to review the feedback he expects to get. He repeated that the sign represents the continuation of a program that will be implemented across Jamaica in various resort spaces. He welcomes suggestions from the public about how to improve the plan, he said.
In reference to the government’s future plans to develop Negril, Richard Wallace, the president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce said the new sign is “a sign of more things to come.”
Photo – JTB