Wednesday, March 22, 2006 – Residents of Chassin and the rest of the
Babonneau Community have been assured that there is much to gain from the US$5
million rainforest aerial tram located at Chassin.
During a ribbon cutting ceremony which signalled the formal opening of the
project, the first of its kind on the island, Member of Parliament for the
Babonneau constituency Honourable Felix Finisterre, said the project has
positioned residents on the economic mainstream. However he said they too had a
responsibility to ensure they optimize the returns from this investment, which
the owners say will provide jobs for over 75 permanent staff, largely St.
“We know that the operators of this sky rides project are very community
oriented. Everything they have done have been very consultative. Last weekend,
about one thousand persons from the community were given free rides. There are
other ideas that they have put forward with regards to making the site available
so that the community could feel a part of this whole new initiative,”
The project is considered a good example of the the type of synergy that exist
between the island's two main industries - Agriculture and Tourism.
Cabinet Minister with responsibility for Agriculture and Forestry Honourable
Ignatius Jean has applauded the Departments of Agriculture and Forestry for
their commitment to forest conservation over the years. He said they have moved
their rain forest tours through the nature trails to a new level - that of now
going over the canopy. He said the aerial trams is another attempt by government
to ensure that persons in the rural communities can sustain their livelihood.
“The nature trails tours is still a major source of revenue and last year
brought in EC$213,000 to the Department of Forestry. The aerial tram is a
wonderful project that will facilitate our effort at promoting the concept of
the sustainable use of our natural resources and will help foster better
environmental education,” Minister Jean said.
The Agriculture Minister is optimistic that the project will create a positive
impact on the lives of the farmers and other residents of the community.
St. Lucia's Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony who was among many
others to experience the inaugural ride, joined with Tourism Minister Philip J.
Pierre in thanking the investors for showing confidence in the economy. Dr.
Anthony told the community that the success of the project like all others, is
dependent in large measure on their hospitality.
“Whenever I speak to tourists about St. Lucia no matter where it is, and I
ask them what has brought you to St. Lucia, ... is it the pitons, the
greenery?...they say no, it is the people of St. Lucia; and so how we treat the
visitors here is going to be vital,” Said Dr. Anthony.
Owners of the project Rain Forest Trams based in Costa Rica, where two similar
projects exist, have assured that the project has and will continue to observe
sound environmental conservation practices. The rides lasting just over one
hour, provide a bird's eye view of the forest from about 90 feet above the
ground. The project is being managed by Rainforest Sky Rides, the local branch
of Rain Forest Trams.