Hostel responds to freak death story
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Further to the article in The Sunday Gleaner of March 6, 2016 headlined 'Two-year-old dies at unregistered tourist attraction', I wish to clarify the following:
1. My family and I, as well as my staff, are very upset and saddened by the family's loss.
2. Whitfield Hall is situated six and a half miles below Blue Mountain Peak and it requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get there. Whitfield Hall Hostel was operated by others from 1946 to 1964, by my father from 1965-1979, then by me and my wife from 1979 to the present time.
3. It was registered with the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) from 1965-1995 and then with Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) from 1996 to present. The JTB assisted us greatly from 1965 to 1995, including providing information and pamphlets at their offices in Kingston, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay.
4. From 1996 to 2000, we were able to easily satisfy the TPDCO requirements, but around 2001, they added some requirements, which included approval and certification of our security arrangements by the Police Liaison Office, which took several years to come.
5. Most of the inspecting/certifying organisations do not have four-wheel-drive vehicles, so we generally have to provide transportation from Hagley Gap or Mavis Bank.
6. The JTB will not issue a licence unless ALL requirements have been met at the time of the application and, given the various requirements from different organisations with start and finish dates, it has proven very difficult to achieve this. However, our licence fees are paid up in full until 2017.
7. We have now satisfied the requirements of all the agencies involved in the TPDCo licence process and conform thereto. Further, TPDCo conducts an annual inspection of the property.
The tragic freak accident was caused by a branch blown from a tree about 50 feet away, which has withstood a lifetime of hurricanes without any incidents. The branch fell on to the tree under which the family was camping. This resulted in the loss of a little boy's life, which is extremely distressing to us all. Our heartfelt sympathy is with his family.
Whitfield Hall Hostel