Pedro St. James’ historic site is set to reopen as a tourist attraction in less than two months.
Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford announced recently that the tourist site is to reopen on 1 May.
It has been closed as a tourist facility since Hurricane Ivan damaged it in September 2004.
However, the Gift Shop has been operational and the site has continued to operate as a popular setting for functions, including dinner parties, dances and weddings.
‘Repairs are going very well,’ explained General Manager Denny Ebanks.
He noted that the roof of the Great House, which was completely gone, is now ready for slates to go on it.
The theatre was being assessed this week, after which repairs can be done and the equipment will be installed.
Repairs to the restaurant are almost complete, and it should be finished in the next two weeks.
Pedro is to be restored to its former glory and come back on the tourist map better than ever. Additions to the site will include a gazebo in the garden by the water, for weddings. Additional landscaping will be included and the parking lot will be paved and re-designed to accommodate more traffic. Lighting is to be established throughout the grounds of the property.
Minister Clifford plans for Pedro St. James to be the anchor attraction for the ‘Go East’ initiative, in which it is planned to steer tourists out to the Eastern districts to spread tourism business out around the island.
‘We will be the first stop going east, where tourists can visit other attractions such as the Pirates’ Caves and the Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park,’ said Mr. Ebanks, who added that tour packages are to be arranged with tour operators.
CEO of the Tourism Attractions Board Gilbert Connolly confirmed that the site’s insurance settlement has been made, but a final payment has yet to be received.
Last year funding was identified by the Ministry of Tourism for repairs to proceed, while the insurance settlement was pending.
Meanwhile, functions have been proving very popular at the site, said Mr. Ebanks.
‘We’ve been having lots of bookings for night functions, and Christmas was very busy. It’s also a very popular place for weddings, and we have quite a few coming up.’
Mr. Ebanks said he is looking forward to having all the amenities back up and running at the castle in order to get the visitors back and promote the area.
A grand opening is planned, but no date has been made official.
Pedro Castle’s redevelopment was for a time impacted by delays in insurance settlements and problems with securing qualified contractors.