Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett has hailed Chukka Caribbean Adventures’ US$3 million investment in the development of the Chukka Ocean Outpost Sandy Bay, as a demonstration of the company’s unwavering belief in Jamaica.
“As a destination, giving confidence to investors is what Jamaica is all about. In the middle of this pandemic, many people would have stopped investing,” he pointed out.
He was speaking at the official opening of the nature adventure park in Hanover on Thursday (Dec. 17).
Minister Bartlett said he is particularly pleased that the opening of the attraction is providing jobs for many tourism workers, who had been laid off since the industry was shut down some nine months ago, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
He noted that “the money spent on remodeling and reinventing this experience, to make it COVID-19 compliant and to put it in a position where it could stand with other attractions around the world and where visitors would want to go, was well spent.”
“We have to take our hats off to a property and ownership for 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 added.
Executive Director of Chukka Caribbean Adventures, John Byles, in his remarks, said that plans for the investment were finalised long before the pandemic hit “and there was never a consideration not to go through with it.”
“We are and have always been strong believers and supporters of brand Jamaica and pandemic or no pandemic, we are not afraid to put our money where our collective hearts are,” he noted.
Mr. Byles informed that of the company’s 22 locations in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean only four are currently operational, all in Jamaica, “but were are really optimistic that things could change dramatically for the better”.
He said that the new attraction “which he describes as a hidden gem” has the potential to transform the Sandy Bay area as a major tourism attraction.
“It will create employment for a lot of people and will have a trickle-down effect as far as benefits to the community,” he added.
Chief Executive Officer, Marc Melville, for his part, said that Chukka Ocean Outpost is for nature lovers, and ocean and cultural explorers.
It offers catamaran cruises, diving, snorkeling, all-terrain vehicle (ATV)/dune buggy safari, riding in the ocean on horseback, among other things.
The property, once a thriving sugar plantation, also features 18th century ruins including a windmill, boiling room and old pier.