The continued development of the Caribbean’s number one attraction – Dunn’s River Falls – should enable the resort town of Ocho Rios to benefit more from the cruise and stopover arrival markets.
Located in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Dunn’s River Falls is the most visited attraction in the country, and its nearly one million visitors annually contribute significantly to the parish’s economy and, by extension, the entire Jamaica.
Chairman of the National Cruise Council (NCC) and Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay, Councillor Michael Belnavis, says the planned upgrading of the Dunn’s River Falls attraction, outlined and tabled recently in the 2019/20 Public Bodies Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure in the House of Representatives by Minister of Finance, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, could now give Jamaica the lion’s share of the growing cruise-shipping market in the region.
Mr. Belnavis, in an interview with JIS News, says that even without the announced upgrade, Jamaica was already on course to becoming the number one cruise destination in the region and that “this will all but seal the deal.”
“Dunn’s River has been, for many years, the number one attraction in the region,” he points out.
“It is no secret that most of the attractions in Montego Bay, Falmouth and Ocho Rios have married their product with Dunn’s River, so as to capitalise on the numbers and to bring more visitors to their place. The strategy now is to tell the guest to go to Dunn’s River first, then finish off your day with us for one price,” the Mayor adds.
Mr. Belnavis tells JIS News that it has been a long time since he has seen this level of enthusiasm being shown by the Ocho Rios business sector, especially with the knowledge now that the main income earner will again be upgraded in line with world-class standards.
He says it was not that long ago that a new $122 million Central Gardens state-of-the-art theme park was opened at Dunn’s River Falls, and which has been utilised greatly by both locals and foreigners.
Mr. Belnavis says the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and its local subsidiary, the St. Ann Development Company (SADCo), should be commended for their vision and their commitment to the enhancement of one of Jamaica’s main tourism jewels.
He adds that SADCo’s plan to enhance the overall sustainability of operations, whilst meeting the needs of patrons, which will involve establishing a new service court to include changing rooms, lockers and shops, and a VIP entrance, as well as to redevelop the craft market at Dunn’s River, is in line with anything “you will see at Disney World and any other world-class attraction.”
For her part, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, in whose North East St. Ann constituency Dunn’s River falls, says the attraction continues to have “this mystical appeal” that will only get bigger and better.
“It is my belief that most Jamaicans have visited Dunn’s River Falls at least once in their lifetime. It is by far the biggest and best attraction in the region. I have been maintaining all along that this attraction, with its natural resources and an ambience like nowhere else on the planet, has the potential to become one of the best in the world,” she adds.
Ms. Robinson says that as the attraction continues to grow, “the interest of every single worker” must be taken into consideration and for them to continue to feel that they are indeed a part of something special and unique.
In the meantime, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says it should not be lost on anyone that the major cruise lines have had a love affair with Dunn’s River for years and have tagged it as probably the number one attraction on the popular western Caribbean itinerary.
“The world-famous Miami Dolphins cheerleaders were at Dunn’s River recently to wrap up a Caribbean photo shoot. The ladies finished the day with a meal of traditional Jamaican jerk, while enjoying everything the Falls had to offer. These are the kinds of publicity that money cannot buy,” the Minister tells JIS News.