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Kingston Jamaica; January 14, 2016: The rafting experience in Portland is set to be significantly enhanced, with some $32 million being allocated to renovate the facilities in Berridale and Rafter’s Rest.
This was revealed by Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill at a meeting which followed the second staging of the Rafter’s Rest Race on Wednesday January 13, 2016.
“We view this $32 million as an investment in the facilities to provide a better experience for everyone who comes to raft at the Rio Grande,” said Minister McNeill.
The project, which is being funded by the Ministry's Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and managed by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), is set to commence during the first week of February, 2016.
The facility at Rafter’s Rest will get improved restrooms, upgraded electrical and sewage systems, roof repairs and a new loading deck. While, the Berridale location will have its kitchen revamped and the premises repainted.
Additional changes may also be made based on suggestions which are expected to be made by the raft captains at an upcoming meeting with the board of the River Rafting Authority.
The Minister explained that restoring the attraction was an important duty of the Ministry and Portland’s resort board because of the significant part it plays in Jamaica’s tourism product.
“There are certain things about Jamaica which make it different from any other destination and one of them is the rafting. Rafting started here and it still remains an iconic attraction. We have a duty to work on restoring the rafting at the Rio Grande to its glory days,” said Dr. McNeill.
The announcement was warmly received by Portland stakeholders, who expressed gratitude for the focus being placed on Portland by the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and its agencies.