The tourism sector in Jamaica has received a major boost with the addition of a new nature adventure park in Sandy Bay, Lucea.
The US$2 million facility has been developed by Chukka Caribbean Adventures.
Jamaica minister of tourism, Edmund Bartlett, declared the attraction officially open earlier during a ribbon cutting ceremony.
He was supported by John Byles, executive director of Chukka, and Marc Melville, chief executive, after which the group toured the seaside facility, which sits on 26 acres.
Chukka Ocean Outpost Sandy Bay, joins the list of attractions operated by the company in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Turks & Caicos, Belize and more recently, Barbados.
Bartlett said: “The money spent on remodelling and reinventing this experience, to make it Covid-19 compliant and to put it in a position where it could stand with other attractions of the world and where the new visitors would want to go, was well spent.”
The minister added he was particularly happy for the investment which, he said, came at a very difficult time but stated that: “As a destination, giving confidence to investors is what Jamaica is all about.”
Also of special interest to minister Bartlett was that the park was enabling more of the island’s tourism workers laid off by the shutting down of the tourism industry some nine months ago, due to Covid-19, to return to work.
He projects that the current winter tourist season will peak at about 40 per cent of what it was last year and provide more jobs.
Melville added: “In the middle of this, many people would have stopped investing,” adding that “investment comes out of hope and confidence and it is the hope and confidence that we received from the leadership at the time, thriving and knowing that we were going in the right direction, that allowed us to go against the tide, put our money where our mouth is and built out the investment that we have here today.”
He observed that the architectural arrangement of the attraction provided for groups in the type of numbers that make it safe for visitors “to find their own bubble and to experience the beauty, the joy and the adrenalin rush that is required, as they seek to satisfy their own passions.”
The project was undertaken by Chukka working in collaboration with the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), Hanover Municipal Corporation and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), who provided guidance in ensuring a sustainable and environmentally friendly facility.