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$300-m Rivva Riddim eco-park planned with Solar powered boats in Jamaica

A $300-million ecotourism park on 16 hectares (40 acres) of the White River Valley, St Ann, is to be developed by The Rivva Riddim Company Limited.

The company has already applied to the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) for permits and licences associated with the development, which includes 12 attractions ranging from zip lines to canopy tree houses and water slides, as well as sailing in solar-powered boats.

Charles Bromfield, who spent over two decades developing real estate — building some 3,000 homes across Jamaica — partnered with Gobind Dansinghani two years ago, initially to create a small eco-farm for their kids, family and friends to have “clean fun”, and, importantly, to have a space where the younger ones weren’t immersed in video games and television.

The idea quickly grew into a large-scale tourism project aimed at earning foreign exchange from “almost 100 per cent local content”.

The property “used to be an old cattle farm, and before that, a sugar estate,” Bromfield told the Jamaica Observer.

The old ruins and underground dungeons alone would provide a big draw for people, however, the project, as outlined in an environmental impact assessment submitted to the NRCA, outlines the addition of splash pools and slip and slides — wet and dry — along with hiking and cycling trails.

The transition into ecotourism was an easy one for Bromfield, who developed a taste for operating such facilities some 20 years ago.

He once owned Burlington Estate, a 550-acre farm in Portland with a 10-acre island in the middle of the river where he engaged in small-scale ecotourism before he had to sell it in 1995, when the loan used to purchase the property ballooned to unmanageable levels during the financial sector crisis.

Alternative energy plays a big role at the Rivva Riddim park, with 200, 200-watt solar panels, three, six-kilowatt hydropower plants and wind generators to be installed across the facility, which will employ solar-powered golf carts and boats for transportation.

Bromfield, who has another company that provides renewable energy, said that the high use of the alternative technology fits into plans to attract school groups, which he believes can form a big part of the park’s business.

“School field trips are a steady and important part of it,” he said. “We can pass on knowledge of alternative energy and the ecological experience… and they can have fun.”

The project plan said the park is being developed to accommodate 500 visitors a day with 200-300 at any one time. Bromfield believes the existing offerings to cruise ship tourists are too few to accommodate all the passengers arriving into the island.

The proposed location is a 45-minute drive from the island’s largest cruise pier (by passenger volume) in Falmouth, Trelawny, and 15 minutes from Ocho Rios, the second largest.

The attractions at Rivva Riddim, so named for the sound or rhythm of the 28-kilometre White River, which will be streamed over a speaker system throughout the attraction, are expected to be constructed in two phases over two years.

Phase one involves all water-based attractions, administrative buildings, a floating restaurant, and gazebos. While phase two will see the construction and operation of hiking and biking trails, along with zip line and rope bridge attractions.

So far, the company has spent approximately $100 million on land acquisition, planning, preparation and surveys.

Bromfield said the remainder of the projected capital cost will be financed largely by equity.

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Category/ies:Jamaica News.
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