Community Focus: Highway kills businesses in Rio Bueno
The small seaside community of Rio Bueno was once one of Trelawny's jewels that was able to attract scores of visitors to its diverse attractions and landmarks back in the day.
What also helped is the fact that Rio Bueno boasted a main thoroughfare that linked several major cities and towns on the north coast, including Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, further driving the growth and development of the coastal community.
However, fast-forward to the present day, and Rio Bueno looks like it has seen better days.
According to residents who spoke with the Western STAR, the introduction of the highway in the early 2000s was like a nail in the coffin, as the diverting of the flow of traffic from the community killed businesses as well as brought about a sense of isolation.
"The community was number one back in the day, because we had a lot of tourists and the buses stopped for people to come eat, drink and just hang out," said one Augustus Williams.
"Places like Rio Brac, Yeow, craft shops and the art gallery used to be on top. The whole place was swinging, and tourists from Montego Bay and Ocho Rios uses to pack up at the place. But from the community get cut off, it slow down the whole area," he added.
His sentiments were echoed by others who noted that the relevance of Rio Bueno has somewhat been lost over the years due to the prominence of the highway, and the economy of the community suffered as a result.
"The major loss that we had was the tourism, and we still feel it up to today because on a ship day in Falmouth like today, we don't see any tourist coming around," resident Milton Gibbs outlined.
"If you look around, we only have a hardware, supermarket and few cookshops. If things were still successful, then more people would have been employed in the community. Tank-Weld is doing well for the community, but they cannot employ everybody, so you still have a lot of idle hands in the community," he added.
The people, however, noted that Rio Bueno is still open for business, and the residents are extending an open invitation to investors who can help put the community back on top.
"Tourism is still a major attraction in Trelawny right now, so I would use that as a stepping stone to start something new to create an attraction. We have a river in the community that can be used for rafting, or we set up back some craft shops that would help to employ some people instead of them having to leave the area," said resident Christopher Gibson.