Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer
Western Bureau:An economic lifeline has injected new hope into the ecotourism property of Ahhh Ras Natango Garden and Gallery in St James as two American investors have come on-board to assist the attraction.
Tamika Williams, one of the owners, stated that it had been a constant uphill battle to get the Government and tourism stakeholders to give the property the recognition it deserved, despite it being the only ecotourism location in Montego Bay.
The business, which had been experiencing a steady decline, has also been negatively affected by poor road conditions, which proved to be a turn-off to potential visitors.
Thankfully, Mark and France Tucci, from South Carolina, saw the potential of the property and how their expertise could help to take it to the next level. They have decided to inject a significant amount of capital into the business.
"We are confident in the future prospects," Williams said of the new arrangement.
Through the support of the Americans, Ahhh Ras Natango Gallery is now able to provide free shuttle service for hotel guests, who contact them directly. While she did not reveal the dollar value of the investment, Williams said this latest arrangement plus the fact that the roads were currently being rehabilitated, meant Ahhh Ras Natango Garden and Gallery was poised to stimulate business in the area.
"Our property has done a lot to unify the community and energise entrepreneurship," said Williams. "All of the items in our gift shows are made by persons in the community. We are now in the process of getting a Domestic Tourist Licence from the Jamaica Tourist Board so we can make the entire community an attraction and open more opportunities for residents."
CALL FOR GREATER PUSH
This latest push for the ecotourism property came just a week after United States Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater called for more ecotourism attractions to add value to destination Jamaica.
According to Bridgewater, there was a need for more tourism-related trips in rural Jamaica and she called for the authorities to fix and maintain rural roads.
Ras Natango Garden and Gallery was established four years ago and boasts a collection of fine paintings by renowned artist Ian Williams. The property is also an environmentalist's paradise as its botanical garden is a haven for several types of birds.