OCHO RIOS, Jamaica – Despite lagging behind the other islands in cruise ship arrivals, Jamaica is way in front of its competitors in terms of quality offerings to passengers, local tourism interests say.
More than $10 billion has been spent over the past five years developing new attractions in Ocho Rios. In addition to Hard Rock, Dolphin Cove, a swimming-with-dolphins facility located near Dunn’s River Falls, has emerged as one of the most popular attractions in the country. The venue has grown from strength to strength where the owners, responding to their customer base, have embarked on a major multimillion- dollar expansion which should be completed within the next few weeks.
Dolphin Cove has also been featured on a number of United States channels including NBC, VH1, CNN and TNT. The positive exposure, industry players say, would have cost the country anywhere between US$5 million and US$7 million in paid advertising.
“We have been getting a lot of free exposure in the overseas press which we are thankful for,” said Stafford Burrowes, owner of Dolphin Cove. “The bigger picture, however, is that Jamaica has been a direct beneficiary which should help in boosting tourist arrivals.”
Mr. Burrowes attributes the attention to what he said has been the large number of international celebrities who have visited Dolphin Cove over the past several years.
“We have had the likes of former NBA star-turned-TV sports analyst Gregg Anthony, the Miami Heat’s Alonzo Mourning, wrestler-turned-actor Hulk Hogan, and an NBC travelling crew in recent months,” Mr. Burrowes added. “We have also had several heads of state, including the South African President. A lot of footage is taken back and passed on to the networks which explains the kind of coverage we have been receiving.”
Mr. Burrowes said the expansion being done will make it ‘the largest marine attraction this side of the hemisphere’. He said this would further boost the country’s appeal as a premier tourism destination, especially for celebrities. “Nothing gets you more attention than when you are able to attract the celebrities,” Mr. Burrowes said.