UDC offers ecotourism business opportunity at Two Sisters Cave

UDC offers ecotourism business opportunity at Two Sisters Cave

BY KELLARAY MILES
Business reporter
milesk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

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The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) has invited interested investors to submit tenders for the lease and development of a new ecotourism experience at the now defunct Two Sisters Cave in Portmore, St Catherine.

According to Dena Chatrie, acting director for business development at UDC, the concept of this new development is to facilitate a general family-oriented entertainment-type offering.

“We want [investors] to develop and operate an eco-attraction that complements opportunities already existing. This will be done through a lease agreement for approximately 10 years with an option to renew. Investors will also be expected to repair and enhance the facilities incorporating elements of its historic culture,” she said during a webinar held in partnership with the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro) last Friday.

The 26 acres beach front property located in Hellshire, Portmore, which has been closed since 2014 due to financial constraints, is now offering one potential investor the opportunity to develop ecotourism-type business activities at the attraction. The property, which also comprises some six buildings scattered across its landscape, will provide the investors with an opportunity to develop restaurants and shops at the once popular attraction which also features a nature trail, water and other dry land activities, including touring the natural limestone caves.

Adjoining other recreational properties, such as the Fort Clarence and Hellshire beaches, as well as the community's juxtaposition with Kingston, it is believed that the project will drive significant economic activties, including some real opportunities for tourism and its associated commerce, within the space.

“We are looking for all the ways that we can maximise the natural resources of this attraction whilst protecting the natural beauty and also explore tourism opportunities just outside of Kingston,” said Heather Pinnock, UDC general manager, noting that the arrival of cruise ships at the Port Royal pier will auger well for the product along with potential investments.

She said that the wider community is also expected to benefit greatly from the development as investors engage with and promote outside activities.

“It is an opportunity that resides in a set of fairly busy communities [including Sand Hills] and I do believe the success of the development of the Two Sisters Cave can lead to many spin-offs and many opportunities. It is also an opportunity for the investor to look at how they can engage what is on offer in and around or even encourage other things to happen outside,” she said.

The UDC in its aim to assist the Government with the divestment of properties has in recent times spearheaded the lease and tendering of other properties including the Festival Marketplace in downtown Kingston and the Closed Harbour Beach Park in Montego Bay.

Proposals to place tenders for this opportunity at Two Sister Cave is now open, and through a recent extension of deadline is expected to now close on February 23rd. Thereafter, a successful investor will be named and the project operationalised within the next 12 to 18 months.

The venture, done in partnership with Jampro, seeks to promote sustainable eco-tourism projects for local and international investment. This, as the entity moves to create new avenues for engaging private sector investment in UDC properties across the island. Through the signing of a memorandum of understanding last year, the agencies have sought to collaborate in boosting economic growth for the country.

Vice-president of sales and promotions at Jampro, Norman Naar, said that his agency will provide a raft of support to potential investors. Some of which he said would include help with site visits, stakeholder meetings, addressing concerns/issues that may arise and providing information of available government incentives from which investors can benefit.

“We also link these potential investments with financiers and in so doing we secure interest for financing of these opportunities. Jampro plays a critical role in supporting this and other similar type investments and we look forward in engaging with potential interest,” he stated.


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