The initial phase of the project, which is scheduled for opening in May 2010, is projected to cost some half a billion dollars and employ hundreds of Jamaicans according to Managing Director, Stafford Burrowes.
“It is projected that the project will cost approximately $500,000,000 Jamaican dollars and, when completed, employ over 200 persons,” Burrowes said.
The move to open this property comes in the wake of the new super capacity cruise ships berthing in Jamaica as well as the huge hotel chains such as Riu, Gran Bahia, Iberostar and Fiesta which have drastically increased Jamaica’s room count.
The activities to be offered at this 20 acre property will mirror the property in Ocho Rios but will also have a lazy river, ecological mangrove tour, crocodiles and camel riding and, according to Burrowes, will likely be the largest marine park in the western hemisphere and the marquee attraction for western Jamaica.
The facility, Burrowes added, is being designed to facilitate Dolphin Human Therapy (DHT), which involves the use of dolphins to provide positive reinforcement to children with special needs.
"It (DHT) is an international programme that has been able to help participants from all over the world. Motivation and confidence are critical for success in almost anything. For the special needs populations, it is hard to imagine anything more motivating than working with dolphins," he explained.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association Wayne Cummings, who was in attendance at the ceremony, said that the industry welcomes the move of Dolphin Cove as rooms without attractions to excite the visitors will render the expansion of room capacity redundant. He lauded Dolphin Cove for being proactive in a time when many are “thinking of the possibility of finding safer harbour for their investment.”
Also in attendance was permanent secretary in the ministry of tourism, Jennifer Griffith, who, on behalf of Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said that the move of the developers is bold especially with the closure of many businesses in this global recession.
“It is a big decision taken in challenging times and it is a strong testament to the confidence that the principals of this enterprise have in our country’s ability to weather the current economic storm and to move on to the growth and future development of our tourism industry," Griffith said.
Other notables in attendance were opposition spokesman on tourism, Dr Wykeham McNeil; director general in the ministry of tourism, Carole Guntley; mayor of Lucea, Lloyd Hill; newly elected president of the Hanover Chamber of Commerce, Horace Wright and president of Positive Tourism, Theo Chambers.
Dolphin Cove operates successful attractions in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Grand Cayman.
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