Prime Minister's Press Secretary
Friday July 29, 2005 - Saint Lucia is set to add a new feature to its
tourism product through an aerial tramway which is about to be established in
the north of the island. ‘Rainforest Sky Rides’ is a US$4 million venture in the
Babonneau area to establish a tramway similar to one that exists in neighbouring
Herena Cao, who is the company’s Chief Operating Officer for the Caribbean, says
the proposed tramway will be constructed on 1,200 acres of government land in
the mountainous area and it will take clients on a 90-minute ride above and
between the surrounding mountains.
The top company official disclosed that the land on which the project is to be
located is owned by the Forestry department and has been made available through
a Government lease. The company entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
with the Government to ensure the forest remains in a pristine state, consistent
with Government’s policy of protection of the forests.
Government has offered a flat lease, but an environmental head tax will be
charged to each client, the proceeds of which will go back into forest
conservation. Ms Cao says clients – visitors and locals alike – “will be able to
take the scenic aerial tram ride from Tete Chemin in the Chassin area to Piton
Flor and La Sourciere, high above the area’s often misty forest.”
Towers for the tramway are already being assembled on the Fond Assau playing
field in preparation for construction. The company behind the project is already
screening job applicants.
A three-day job fair started at the Fond Assau Multi Purpose Complex on
Wednesday to interview persons from the general area interested in employment on
the project. According to Ms Cao, the company intends to hire between 60 and 75
workers in the construction process, which is expected to last until year’s end.
Among the skills needed for the tramway project are drivers, mechanics, lift
operators, cleaners, senior tour guides (who can speak a foreign language) and
junior tour guides (who speak only English and Kweyol).
The job fair, which continues until Friday, takes place between 2:00pm and
6:00pm daily and was organized by the company to ensure applicants are
personally assessed. The investors expect the project will be completed by
December 2005 and it will add a new feature to the continuing expansion of St.
Lucia’s increasingly diversified tourism product.
Ms Cao said her company runs the Dominica tramway operation, which is called
Dominica Rainforest Aerial Tram and is located in the village of Laudat. Her
company also operates two other similar aerial tramway projects in Costa Rica,
one on the Atlantic and the other on the pacific coast of the Central America,
She said Saint Lucia was chosen for the project “because this is an island where
tourism is booming and with the perfect combination we require for our parks.”
Ms Cao identified the perfect combination as “a diverse rainforest and a very
good record for hotel stay-over and cruise ship visitors.”
She said she had “no doubt that the project will also help boost Saint Lucia’s
tourism project even more.”
Meanwhile, the aerial tramway project as been welcomed by the Parliamentary
Representative for Babonneau, Minister for Communications, Works, Transport and
Public Utilities, the Honourable Felix Finisterre.
The Minister, who is also a former Executive Director of the St. Lucia Heritage
Tourism Programme, says: “I am very pleased that Saint Lucia was chosen and that
my constituency of Babonneau was selected for the project. “I am sure this new
feature will add to our long list of heritage tourism projects and to the
expansion of our diversified tourism base.”