July 8, 1998
Jamaica near funding for restoration of pirate city

KINGSTON, Jamaica, July 8 (Reuters) - The agency spearheading the redevelopment of Jamaica's famed pirate city Port Royal said on Wednesday it expected to raise the $58 million needed for the project by October.

"We are expecting to complete an agreement shortly with Citibank as lead banker for the project, and as soon as that is in place, we expect several other financial institutions to come on board," Robert Stevens, Chairman of Port Royal Development Company, told Reuters.

Stevens said he would begin next week a trip through Europe and the United States to attract investors to the project.

The Port Royal Development Co. wants to restore the city in time to receive its first cruise ship in June 2000.

Located on the Palisadoes peninsula south of Kingston, Port Royal once was known as a "rest and recreation" centre for pirates and buccaneers who roamed the Spanish Main in the 17th century, until an earthquake sank the city in 1692.

Jamaican government and business leaders, eager to add historical and heritage tourism to the Caribbean nation's mix of sand and sun, have come up with an idea to redevelop the site as a theme park modelled off the concept of Williamsburg in Virginia.

The government of Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has endorsed the Port Royal plan and will participate in its development, and signed a development agreement for the site on May 6.