Another labour of love for Mr Jason Henzell

Monday, February 05, 2018

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Perhaps the strangest aspect of Lovers' Leap in the quiet farming community of Yardley Chase in south-east St Elizabeth is that several attempts at its establishment as a sustainable and profitable visitor attraction have failed.

It seems strange because the historic Lovers' Leap — perched on the edge of a 1,700-foot cliff — is linked to a colourful tale of love and tragedy with which most people will naturally empathise; boasts some of the most spectacular views to be found anywhere in Jamaica; has great potential for eco and heritage tourism utilising hiking tours, etc; boasts a salubrious climate; and is in the embrace of welcoming, warm-hearted people in a community with little or no crime.

In such circumstances you would think Lovers' Leap would be a booming attraction, contributing significantly to Jamaica's US$2.5-billion tourism industry, and among the first-choice 'must-sees' for the millions who visit annually.

Instead, though prominently listed in visitor guide books, Lovers' Leap has, for many years, been little more than an afterthought in the context of Jamaica's south coast tourism sector.

This newspaper believes Senator Aubyn Hill, chief executive officer of the Economic Growth Council, is on target when he identifies “management” as the main reason for the Lovers' Leap paradox.

Says he: “We know how many times this thing (development of Lovers' Leap attraction) start. Management is the key to success… (You have) to be able to take the resources that you have, few as they may be or wonderful as they may be at Lovers' Leap, and put them together with people and advertising and marketing, and turn this thing that has been here forever… into [a] success.”

That, then, explains the decision by the Government to hand a 10-year lease for the management of Lovers' Leap to Mr Jason Henzell, who has been central to the transformation of the once-remote fishing village of Treasure Beach to be the face of Jamaica's community tourism.

Mr Henzell's role in the development of his family's Jake's Hotel and the related Jack Sprat Restaurant as household names at home and abroad is well established.

But also his leadership of the Treasure Beach community organisation, BREDS, and in the creation of an evolving sports park and a culture of sports tourism as a segment of community tourism have earned Mr Henzell overarching respect locally, regionally and beyond.

Further, we dare not forget that Mr Henzell has been pivotal in St Elizabeth's sustainable development plan.

His work in terms of his businesses and community has been marked by energy, vision, creativity, dedication and, crucially, keen attention to proper management practices.

Hence Senator Hill's ringing endorsement: “If there is one man in St Elizabeth that can do that (bring good management to Lovers' Leap), it's Jason Henzell.”

At Lovers' Leap, Mr Henzell is focused not just on polishing, enhancing and marketing a well known attraction, but on a readily identifiable restaurant and bar, the offerings of which will attract visitors in droves, all on its own.

This newspaper has every confidence that, as he has done repeatedly in the past, Mr Henzell will once again make St Elizabeth and all Jamaica proud.

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