SPEACKING NOTES – MR. DESMOND MALCOLM, GENERAL MANAGER (URBAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION)
We are here today to celebrate the historic achievements of the green grotto caves as it is the first tourist attraction in the history of Jamaica to receive platinum certification, representing 10 years of continuous certification with Earthcheck. The attraction received this certification in April 2012 valid until March 2013. Efforts are now underway to conduct a re-certification exercise.
The green grotto caves is also the first attraction in the world to be green globe certified. This has been made possible only through great leadership and team work from the St Ann development company through Mrs. Laura heron and Miss Fabia Lamm, manager of the green grotto caves and their excellent staff members.
Of course the UDC team is quite proud of this achievement, which adds value to Jamaica in the fast growing global ecotourism industry. This achievement is also significant in the context of the UDC’s 45th anniversary which highlights the impact of the corporation in making development happen in virtually all the sectors of the Jamaican society.
You may recall that the green grotto caves and attractions was first successfully certified in 2002, under the green globe 21 programme and, achieved gold certification in 2009 under the Earthcheck programme.
This historic attraction was first acquired by the corporation in 1999, upgraded and reopened in April 2000. Over the years, the facility has been developed by the corporation. Work implemented includes extensive landscaping, improvements to the tour trail, the installation of special effect lighting inside the caves, improved amenities, a snack counter and the recent opening of a logo and souvenir shop.
Green grotto caves and attractions is situated on 64 acres of land here in discovery bay, St. Ann. If you have not yet had the opportunity, I invite you to, tour the caves and enjoy a journey into the underground and, rediscover Jamaican history. Previously known as runaway, dairy, rum, hopewell and dry harbour caves, the green grotto caves are said to have provided shelter for Jamaica’s first inhabitants, the taino indians. The caves boast a maze of stalactites and stalagmites and other exquisite formations.
This platinum certification is of particular value to us as owners and managers of green grotto caves, because it puts a stamp of approval on our deliberate attempts at the UDC to ensure, that our development programmes are executed and managed, according to the best environmental practices, in order to achieve the highest levels of sustainability.
The green grotto caves, like its sister attraction Dunn’s river falls and parks are two of the shining jewels in the UDC portfolio. We are aware that as natural attractions they belong to the heritage of Jamaica and have been entrusted to the care of the UDC. Our constant challenge is to preserve them, to improve them and to ensure their use for the benefit of all Jamaicans and our visitors.
For over four and a half decades, the UDC has played a pivotal role in the development of the tourism product in Jamaica. Indeed, the corporation, in pursuing its mandate to make development happen, has been instrumental in the provision of prime resort properties and facilities across Jamaica.
In 1968, when the UDC was established, the town of Ocho Rios was designated the corporation’s first rural project. It is fitting therefore that as the corporation marks 45 years of making development happen, we are here in the parish of St. Ann, to mark another first…
The emphasis is on improving the general facilities and ambiance as well as service delivery, while ensuring the sustainability of the natural attributes. To this end, we are continuing our ongoing mission to diversify, enhance and expand the tourism product in Jamaica. Among our projects for this financial year, is the implementation of a new ticket management system at the Dunn’s river falls and park.
The award of this platinum certification is welcome encouragement to our development programme here.
As we continue to pursue quality and excellence, our aim is to make this a premier eco-tourism attraction. The award of this environmental certification is a signal that we are on the right path.
In closing, let me use this opportunity to remind us all as Jamaicans, that it is the tourism industry that continues to be a major plank in our economy.
It is a very sensitive industry and a very fragile one. Government, through its agencies such as the UDC is providing the infrastructure for this industry.
No matter how much we spend, however, on the physical resources, the sustainability of this vital industry will always be dependent on our human resources. People are always the most important factor in the equation and especially in a service industry as this one.
Congratulations again to the management and staff of green grotto caves and i encourage you to continue to play your part in advancing the development of this facility, this parish and our country, Jamaica.