Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Big boost for eco-tourism lodge

Published:Saturday | November 1, 2014 | 11:38 PM
Contributed Members of the Bowden Pen Farmers Association receiving goods and equipment towards the upgrading of the cabins and experience as part of a Rural Economic Development Initiative project.
Contributed Ambassabeth Eco- Lodge in Bowden Pen St. Thomas
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The Bowden Pen Farmers Association, which operates Ambassabeth Eco-Lodge as well as a number of hiking trails in the Rio Grande Valley, Portland has received a boost to grow its unique attraction.

The association was recently presented with goods and equipment towards the upgrading of the cabins and the overall experience at the lodge.

The support was provided as part of the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) project, which is funded by the World Bank and the Government and is being implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).

The project will improve the lodge's offerings from market-ready stage to export market-readiness.

According to Loy Malcolm, general manager, project management at JSIF, REDI will also fund the provision of marketing and promotional services to develop and run a promotional campaign.

"Essentially this will feed into the Association's aims to double occupancy by increasing visitor numbers to 500 per year by December 2015. This is to allow it to increase share of the ecotourism market in Jamaica."

Malcolm shared that investing in community based tourism, forms part of JSIF' continued support of this growing niche sector, as it contributes to the nation's economic and social development.

"Projects like this will benefit from National Community Tourism Policy and Strategy, which is in Green Paper stage which is being facilitated through a partnership with JSIF and the Ministry of Tourism," added Malcolm.

Coordinator of the Association, Linnette Wilks said the REDI support will allow it to enhance the aesthetics of the cabins.

The Ambassabeth Eco Lodge provides rustic, cosy and simple accommodations, as well as guided eco/nature tours on a number of hiking trails in the upper Rio Grande Valley, the buffer zone of the Blue and John Crow Mountains.

Currently its customer segment includes local and foreign-based university students and researchers as well as back-packing nature lovers. The cabins provide a place of stay for eco-tourism and volunteerism (volunteer tourism) niches.

Included in the scope of the project are equipping with goods such as bed linen made of fleece, television, projector screen, provision of solar panels and a water purification system. The project will also cover training in housekeeping and business management.