It was more of the same on Day Two of the Sustainable Tourism Program which involves the controversial zoning of the Fort Street Tourism Village. Thousands visitors disembarked the four cruise lines, but those who ply their trade to put bread on their table, were not happy campers. Under the new rules they must wait on the outside. It is peak season and with no money in their pockets, there was chaos and confusion. News Five’s Marion Ali was at the Village today and has this report.
Marion Ali, Reporting
It was back to the grind for those who rely on cruise ship visitors at the Fort Point Tourism Village as they returned to the location to earn their keep. Those who we spoke with at gate four on Wednesday told us that the newly introduced Sustainable Tourism Programme was not working for them because they had not made any money. Today, when we returned we found that some tour guides, taxi drivers and hair braiders were still not making any money by the new system.
Claire Williams, Hair braider, Fort Street Tourism Village
“Usually deh time yah out yah peel everybody done get wah job. And right now Christmas deh close and everybody di try fi deh family.”
“They say that it is a rotation basis. Fu unu turn noh come yet?”
“They noh give we no rotation, the braiders noh get no rotation. We have to stay behind the barrier and we have to deal with the tourists from over there. As you can see the dispatcher noh talk nothing bout no braids no nothing.”
“Maybe the tourists deh noh want their hair done today.”
“This is what I am saying. The tourists don’t come off the ship saying I’m going to get my hair braided, I’m going to get my toes painted; I have to convince them to get it done and I am not getting that break to convince them. Everytime when I try the police tell me I gotta step back.”
On Wednesday we spoke with this tour guide, Cecil Gill, and he told us that he made no money because he did not get the opportunity to approach the tourists. Today he said it was more of the same.
Cecil Gill, Tour Guide
“It’s very difficult. Nothing change, just pure confusion.”
“It’s a rotation according to the people who plan this, it’s a rotation system.”
“I noh see it working. I noh get no rotation. I have to di walk up and down to get mines.”
“Did you make money yesterday?”
“No not a penny and today, I still noh mek none yet. So as you can see pure confusion.”
Gill said he is willing to give the planners more time to iron out the kinks in the new system but while they do, he and others in the industry are not taking home any money. The new system, meanwhile, also includes a zoning of the tourism area.
Wayne Usher, City Councilor
“The zone itself if you’ll start from the Swing Bridge. You go down Queen Street, you go straight down and then you make a left by where the U.S Embassy was then you go around the Central Bank around Marine Parade, come around the Lighthouse pass the tourism Village and back to the Bridge foot. That’s the zone that is the tourism zone.”
But people who live or have businesses in the zone called a meeting last night to discuss their own personal issues that the new zoning has brought on. While he supports the project, Jeremy Spooner of Spooner’s Photo Lab on North Front Street, says he has his own concerns.
Jeremy Spooner, Businessman
“There were some concerns of some of the residents about parking issues. My concerns were about parking issues, toilets in the area because a lot of time tourist come and ask to use our toilets. Also, the direction of the traffic because right now it is very convenient for me—to come around from Marine Parade or by St. Mary’s Church to get here. If they change it, I would have to go over the Swing Bridge and come here or go down North Front Street and Holy Redeemer is a pain in the morning with all the kids going to school—there is always traffic jams. I notice that when they approached the area, they are approaching it as a tourist destination and I think they have forgotten of the residences and the businesses that are here. I just reminded them that although I welcome the idea, the upliftment.”
The project, according to City Councilor responsible for Tourism, Wayne Usher, is an upliftment to the old capital and the industry.
“There’s going to be a managing committee managing that zone to see that things are done right and according to plan. The zone itself will constitute an area where there’s commercial activity of course, the tourism, the entertainment, the hotels, they are tight in there. So all of this will encompass it. And then there is the craft market, the renovations at the Memorial Park, the upliftment. All of that will be included and people will benefit even the heritage side of it. If you have colonial houses in that area, you can on your own, with your private home, you will be able to open that down the stretch.”
“But tourists won’t be confined to that area because there will be tourist who might want to go to Albert Street, go and eat at Dits?”
“That will by no way confine them. They are not confined to the zone. The zone is to upgrade and uplift that immediate area where the cruise stops.”
Usher said that the project will be expanded to include other areas as time progresses. Meanwhile the infrastructural adjustments and fine-tuning along the tourism zone will get underway by March of 2011. Marion Ali for News Five.