A few months ago I had the pleasure of spending a day at Winnifred Beach outside Port Antonio. Much to my surprise, the beach was open to the public free of charge. Can you imagine how shocked I was when not faced with a government ticket office and a $400 entry fee? I was even more surprised after learning that this immaculately kept jewel was cared for by the community.
Winnifred Beach is a Jamaican treasure. I was not surprised when I was informed by one of the vendors that the Urban Development Corporation, which has never seen a public beach that it didn't want to control, has been of the opinion that cottages and concrete would enhance the environment. Winnifred Beach attracts tourists as well as locals who find the tranquillity of the area invigorating. I saw families who had no desire to ride disturbing watercraft, who enjoyed the delicious food provided by the vendors, and who did not miss the loud music at some other locations. Any attempt by the UDC to cover the area in concrete will result in the loss of tourists who return year after year with families and who stay in small local cottages outside the beach area.
This is the type of tourism we should be encouraging. The people of Port Antonio, Portland, and the rest of Jamaica should do everything to keep Winnifred Beach the way it is, except for adequate bathroom facilities and a paved road to the beach. No longer should we sit silently while our beaches are confiscated for tourists and elite Jamaicans only.
R Oscar Lofters