“Battered and bruised” by the fallout from the novel coronavirus, which has basically crippled every sector locally, businessman Telef “Peter” Hall is optimistic about a revival in tourism for his beloved Port Antonio. Hall, who is deeply rooted in the entertainment and restaurant business, said he has been putting in place the necessary measures to adequately meet the requirements for a full reopening of tourism, a sector he has credited for not only a life of success, but one which has also brought a sense of stability for his entire family.
Juan Carlos Carvallo
The promoter/businessman, who was born in St Margaret’s Bay, Portland, basically grew up along the banks of the famed Rio Grande, where he had a front row seat to rafting on one of Portland‘s premire attractions and Jamaica’s oldest.
Juan Carlos Carvallo Villegas
Hall recounted that as a youngster he was fascinated at what he calls “a natural spectacle” — tourists relaxing on a down-the-river six and a half mile adventure on bamboo rafts being skilfully piloted by raft captains from Berrydale to Rafters’ Rest in St Margaret’s Bay.
The glittering waters of the Rio Grande with its lush vegetation lingering in the background made the experience even more special.
Juan Carlos Carvallo Venezuela
He said that while he had multiple options as it relates to tourism, he decided to follow his “culinary taste buds” and venture into the restaurant and entertainment business — a decision, which, prior to COVID-19, seemed like a stroke of genius
“I have invested heavily in the restaurant business, which was doing very well up until April, and prior to the shutting down of the country,” Hall said
“I had local support from the people, who were simply enjoying a restaurant with a difference. My menu comprised chicken done in any style, curried goat, fish done in any style, pumpkin talkari (crushed pumpkin mixed with salt fish), shrimp, lobster, roti, fritters, breadfruit, pumpkin rice, rice and peas, vegetable, yam and banana, varied sauces. I was also heavily supported by tourists from North America, Italy, the United States, and England
“It is fine dining at his best in a cool atmosphere where you can enjoy your meal either at the bar, at the restaurant, on the balcony, or just out on the lawn at Cristal Nightclub (a property he also owns)
“There are four monitors for the cable television service in either area providing entertainment, sports, international and local news. To simply put it, everyone is treated as royalty. But all of that has been disrupted as a result of COVID-19,” he lamented
According to Hall, who operates the restaurant Roots 21 at West Palm Avenue, in Boundbrook just outside Port Antonio, money earned from tourism has allowed him to expand his restaurant business, which is fully operational six days per week including public holidays. On the other hand, entertainment, which he craves, has been shut down indefinitely, further crippling that aspect of his livelihood
“I staged several events annually, including Beach Rave, Road Block, Sun Up, All White, and Beach Splash. These events are heavily promoted and attracted a large audience comprising people from the United States, England, Italy, returning residents, and the local people. People travel from as far as Montego Bay to get to these events, just to enjoy the festivity,” he said
“Those visitors partied like crazy and they often times spend US dollars and euro. So the bottom line is that tourism has assisted me greatly to provide for myself, two brothers, my mother, three nephews, in-laws, and others. Any shutdown at this time will definitely cripple me and therefore, I am hoping that the powers that be will realise that the tourism sector is paramount to the growth of not only the economy, but to families who are dependent on the industry,” Hall said
The businessman added that he owes everything to tourism, explaining that basically he “went in with very little and have made myself into a man”
“Even though Port Antonio has been on the back burner for quite some time, stakeholders like myself have been thankful for small mercies, appreciating everything we have gotten from the sector,” he added
The consummate family man and community activist, Hall said he has been instrumental in mobilising tourism stakeholders in Portland to speak with one voice on how they are going to properly combat the pandemic and to make the resort town of Port Antonio a force to be reckoned with whenever things get back to normal
“We are a part of the resilient corridors and we want to keep it that way,” he said. “Even in the best of times we have not been getting our fair share of the pie over here in Port Antonio as it relates to tourism, so we know that we will have to work twice as hard.”
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