Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Dolphin Cove plans US$2m upgrade in Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | May 4, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Trainer Dujon Sharpe takes Mitch, the dolphin, through its paces at the Dolphin Cove marine park in Ocho Rios.

Dolphin Cove plans to pump US$2 million ($246 million) into upgrading its marine parks this year.

"(This is) part of our plan to make Dolphin Cove the signature attraction in this country, which will contribute to the economic success of Jamaica," said Eduardo Albor Villanueva in the company's 2015 annual report.

Villanueva is the CEO of Mexico-based Dolphin Discovery Group, which became the majority owner of the local marine attraction last November.

The planned capital expenditure will be substantially higher than the company's investment in 2015, when it spent $112.5 million (US$960,000) on additions to properties and plant, and $29 million (US$250,000) on additions of live assets.

It is also the biggest investment by the marine park operator since 2013, when US$4.4 million was used to acquire property overseas and invest in dolphins in Jamaica. Dolphin Cove has property in St Lucia and in Turks & Caicos Islands earmarked for development into parks.


Positive outlook


"The outlook remains very positive as we continue to benefit from the increasing numbers of new hotel rooms being constructed," said Dolphin Cove CEO Stafford Burrowes in the annual report. "Improvements being implemented in the vicinity of the Ocho Rios Cruise Ship Terminal should see greater guest satisfaction and an increase in cruise arrivals to this port."

Expectations are that the new North-South Highway, which puts Caymanas just a 45-minute ride away from the Ocho Rios park, will also lead to higher revenue.

Dolphin Cove's Ocho Rios attraction has dragged on sales and profitability of the company, which saw its net profit decline from $440 million (US$4 million) in 2014 to $406 million (US$3.5 million) last year as revenue fell in US dollar terms from $1.16 billion (US$10.5 million) to $1.17 billion (US$10 million).

In US dollar terms, the Ocho Rios attraction saw flat sales in the first quarter of 2015, a nine per cent reduction in revenue in the second quarter, followed by an eight per cent decline in the third quarter ending September. Sales fell more sharply by 16 per cent in US dollar terms in the last quarter of 2015.

Earnings for the Ocho Rios park was 19 per cent below year-earlier levels in the first quarter of 2015 and was down by 29 per cent in the second quarter. During the third quarter, profit after tax increased by nine per cent over the corresponding period in 2014.

But the marine tourist attraction, located in St Ann, reported a loss of $14 million (US$120,000) from $258 million (US$2.15 million) in sales during the three months to December 2015. That's down from $154 million (US$1.36 million) in profit from $291 million (US$2.57 million) of sales in the comparative quarter the year before.

For its Negril location, Dolphin Cove's revenue in 2015 reflected growth for a third year running, while its net profit of US$1 million is the highest it earned on record.

So, too, were the US$1.7 million in revenue and US$430,000 earnings reported for the business segment classified as 'other'. Those operations include dolphin programmes at the Half Moon and the Moon Palace resorts, where a gift shop is also operated; and dune buggy, horseback and plantation tours, which include camel rides, ostriches and a butterfly enclosure, offered at Prospect, St Ann.