Jamaica’s new Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, has announced an exciting new array of attractions as part of his vision which sets out how he intends to grow the country’s broader appeal to the overseas visitor.
Minister Bartlett has already stated his intention to grow the variety and amount of attractions available, even though few can claim to have scratched the surface of everything that Jamaica has to offer. The country’s enormous number of attractions - manmade and naturally formed - give some indication of the depth of Jamaica’s rich culture, heritage and biodiversity.
Commenting, Minister Bartlett said: “As Jamaica’s room stock increases, so we increase our endeavours to bring heads to beds. Jamaica’s attractions will be key in attracting British travellers to explore our beautiful island, and we encourage an even greater range and scope of offerings. Our goal is to offer diversity in our attractions, complimenting our natural assets and fully incorporating our unique heritage.”
Coyaba Gardens, one of Jamaica’s botanic gems just outside of Ocho Rios town, has added a new walkway which allows visitors access to a viewing platform at the edge of the 80 ft cliff, affording views of the waterfall on one side and across Ocho Rios bay on the other. The promenade features a bar.
For an insight into Jamaica’s rich heritage, visitors should head to Outameni, a couple of miles from the Georgian village of Falmouth between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. This interactive experience, which opened in September, takes visitors on a journey through Jamaica’s history covering periods of the Spanish occupation, colonisation, slavery, emancipation, and the arrival of the indentured labourers. Live singing, dancing and acting performances bring the tale of Jamaica’s colourful history to life.
Those seeking an adrenalin-rush can test their mettle as a co-driver at Jamaica’s best dirt circuit. The Jamspeed Rally Experience is the country’s newest first full-blown performance driving school, and visitors are invited to join in a real-life high-speed rally race in one of their competitive vehicles - choosing from a Peugeot 206 GT, Mitsubishi Evolution III or Subaru Impreza STi V5.
Recent new additions to the attractions sub-sector have included water parks such as Kool Runnings in Negril, and expansion by Chukka Caribbean Tours to include an underwater sea trek, canopy tours and their brand new Ocean Safari.
Jamaica’s natural and cultural assets are clear to see in every corner of Jamaica. From The Blue Mountains with its rich birdlife, endemic flora, coffee plantations and the Maroon Trail, to the mangroves of the Black River with resident crocodiles who swim up to tour boats for an up close and personal experience, there is much to behold that amplifies the beauty and diversity of the country. The botanical gardens, of which there are several, are considered to be some of the finest in the Caribbean, and spectacles such as the Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios and YS Falls, slightly further off the beaten track in St Elizabeth, attract thousands every year.
Some of Jamaica’s Great Houses have been restored and give a fascinating insight into life on slavery-era sugar plantations, another thread in the rich tapestry that makes up Jamaica’s modern heritage. For example, Rose Hall Great House in Montego Bay tells a story of slavery, adultery, a murderous mistress and the sinister presence of ghostly happenings.
Jamaica is famous for its food and drink and the Appleton Estate Rum Tour is a must - not just to learn about the history and manufacture of this essential tipple, but of the enormous range of varieties and blends. Walkerswood, the home of Jamaican spices just a few miles from Ocho Rios set amongst beautiful countryside, illustrates the history of Jamaican spices, their various uses, and teaches visitors how to cook traditional Jamaican dishes. Even an outing to street stalls is an attraction in itself, where some of the most mouth-watering and succulent meals can be purchased for just a few dollars and eaten by the roadside whilst watching people from every walk of Jamaican life passing by.