Developer looks to history and nature for tourism market
David Wilson, who has spent a decade improving his property in Rio Nuevo, St Mary, says that - although challenged by the burden of funding improvements out of pocket - he is now ready to recoup his outlay from new tours being run on the property.
Over time, he has spent US$250,000 - which at spot market value converts to more than $34 million - and is aiming for pay back
on the investment and profitability in another two years.
Ten years after acquiring the 30-acre property, which was renamed Rio Nuevo Village, Wilson unveiled the latest upgrades in July.
The site includes a Taino museum, which also chronicles the historic battle between Britain and Spain for Jamaica at Rio Nuevo in 1655; it is a nesting site for local and migratory birds; features nature walks; and offers bed and breakfast accommodation at the Great House on the site.
Operating through Rio Nuevo Village Project Limited, a company incorporated in 2014, Wilson said the venture aims to tap a market of overseas tourists, local visitors, corporates, and schools. The museum features over 6,000 pieces of Spanish and Taino artefacts, most of which the real estate investor found on the same property.
Wilson, whose background is in mining aggregates and real estate ventures, said work on the property over time included restoration of the Rio Nuevo Great House that served as battle headquarters, and the main plantation house, which has been designated a national heritage site; "unearthing, restoring and cataloguing some 6,000 Spanish and Tainos' artefacts that are now available for viewing in the restored Great House that also serves as a museum; and training and dredging the Rio Nuevo river to allow for rafting and kayaking.