Chen wants churches restored to boost tourism offerings

July 05, 2016
Edmund Bartlett
Wayne Chen ... Expecting a full report on doctor's absence from work.
St Georges Anglican Church in Mile Gully, Manchester.

Jamaican businessman Wayne Chen has made a call for funds to be set aside to restore some of the country's historical churches, which can be used to boost heritage tourism in the island.

According to Chen, Jamaica has the best collection of old Anglican churches in the region in comparison to other Christian countries, but it has failed to capitalise on heritage tourism like countries such as Barbados, which has cashed in on church tours.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has spent approximately $46 million since 2008 on the rehabilitation of several churches, including the St. Peter's, Port Royal, and St James Parish Church.

He said an additional $16 million has been earmarked for the rehabilitation of two more churches - Coke Methodist and the Burchell Memorial Baptist Church.

Chen and Bartlett were speaking at the book launch of A Watercolour Tribute to Historic Jamaican Churches by Jamaican author Juliet Thorburn at Devon House in St Andrew last week.

Bartlett said the book depicts "Jamaica's priceless cultural landmarks that can be built out to enhance visitor experience".

Bartlett said that as the ministry embarks on another iteration of Spruce Up Jamaica, more funds would be set aside for community tourism, which includes faith-based tourism, which would see churches being upgraded to nudge them towards commercial opportunities.

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