JAMAICA’S tourism offerings has been boosted with last Saturday’s opening of the Mystic Mountain Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica – an environmentally-friendly attraction in Ocho Rios, St Ann.
The 100-acre park features three unique and exhilarating attractions, namely the Rainforest sky lift explorer which transports visitors from the entrance up 700 feet to the mountain top; the thrilling coaster Bobsled Jamaica and the zipline canopy tour.
Visitors to the park must go through the educational pavillion which highlights aspects of the island’s history, environment, heritage and culture and athletic tradition.
Adjacent to the pavillion is the three-storey Mystic Mountain railway station, which offers amazing views from its lookout tower. The second level consists of a bar and restaurant which serves contemporary Caribbean cuisine while the ground level accommodates a photo, gift and video shop. Completing this setting is the infinity pool.
On Saturday, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said the attraction was a superb example of the private sector’s contribution to the island’s overall tourism product.
“Working together with public and private sector can accomplish far more than individually and an area where collaboration can make a difference is environmental protection, and I am so pleased we have chosen this kind of attraction,” he said, adding that the site “will be a magnet for new and returned visitors and a stellar attraction for cruise visitors”.
He said the attraction is an innovative way to showcase Jamaica’s natural beauty and culture and also offers an extraordinary setting for special events. He also said it ensures greater diversity as the island’s room stock increases and vendors in the tourism industry seek innovative ways to attract more visitors.
Mystic mountain, he added, illustrated the increased importance of staying ahead of market trends.
Bartlett, who recently returned from a two-week trip in Europe, said he was pushing that market for Jamaica to achieve the targeted five million stopover arrivals within the next 10 years and to earn US$7.5 billion within that period.
Meanwhile, Horace Clarke – chairman of Mystic Mountain Limited which operates the facility – said the lot of land on which the multimillion-dollar attraction sits was “environmentally obscene” with the only good thing about it: its enticing view. He said two of the biggest challenges the company faced were acquiring the land and then finding a suitable name for the attraction.
He said when all was in place, the property was registered on March 11, 2003.
Mystic Mountain’s managing director, Michael Drakulich, said the attraction was realised through a dream team which held fast to “the dream” to make it happen.
A passionate environmentalist, he said they wanted a concept which would ensure that visitors enjoyed the environment and its offerings without disturbing its natural habitat.
He said it was, however, difficult to get financial institutions to buy into the dream.
“Trying to deal with financial institutions in this country and trying to bring this idea to them was ridiculously hard,” he explained, adding that if “convincing investors was impossible, convincing banks was double impossible”.