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Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Bartlett welcomes new Chukka $2M nature adventure park

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Written by Harry S. Johnson

Jamaica’s attractions sub-sector has received a major boost with the addition of a new nature adventure park in Sandy Bay, Lucea, at a cost of over US$2 million by Chukka Caribbean Adventures.

Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett declared the attraction officially opened yesterday (December 17), during a ribbon cutting ceremony, supported by Chukka’s Executive Director, John Byles and Chief Executive Officer, Marc Melville, after which he 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 and Caicos, Belize and more recently, Barbados.

Mr. Bartlett said “the money spent on remodeling and reinventing this experience, to make it COVID-19 compliant and to put it in a positon where it could stand with other attractions of the world and where the new visitors would want to go, was well spent.”

Mr. Bartlett 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.”

Mr. Melville posited that: “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.” 

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 percent of what it was last year and provide more jobs.

Following a tour of the property, Minister Bartlett commended the innovation that had gone into creating “a facility that will enable the very health conscious, social distance conscious visitor to be happy to enjoy the experiences that are being offered here.”

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.”

Mr. Melville said the Ocean Outpost offered: the added attraction of a unique leisure infrastructure with catamarans sailing the Hanover seacoast; diving; snorkeling and riding in the ocean on horseback. There are also two rivers and springs on the property.

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.