North Side’s Crystal Caves attraction is the winner of one of this year’s Governor’s Conservation Awards.
The Governor’s Conservation Awards, developed by the National Trust for the Cayman Islands and endorsed by Governor Helen Kilpatrick, aim to recognize outstanding achievement in the field of historic preservation and environmental conservation in the Cayman Islands. At the awards ceremony held on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at Government House, the Crystal Caves won the Tourism Industry Conservation Award.
According to a press release, judges sought candidates who have implemented or significantly contributed to a conservation project or activity aimed at protecting biodiversity, wildlife, endangered species, or places of environmental significance.
In the Tourism Industry Conservation category, the award requirements specify that the ideal candidate “must be a leader in offering environmentally friendly visitor services, [and] they must provide visitors easy access to nature, beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities.”
Other qualities judges look for include the nominated organization offering services which promote and highlight Cayman’s natural resources and/or heritage, that it incorporates sustainable measures, and that it provides an educational component to their visitors.
“On behalf of Cayman Crystal Caves, my business partner Ergun Berksoy and I would like to thank the people of North Side and all those devoted Caymanians who have been part of this project for so many years, making this unique nature attraction possible,” said Crystal Caves developer Christian Sorensen.
“Since opening this year, we have now become one of the most sought after attractions on island, showing the genuine interest amongst people from all over the world to experience the wonders of nature. Many thanks also to the National Trust for the support, and the Cayman Islands Government, and her excellency the governor for the support and hosting this event, this award and recognition means a lot to us.”
In its description of the winning project at the awards ceremony, the National Trust remarked Mr. Sorensen spent 20 years developing the North Side caves into one of the island’s most popular tourism attractions.
“The excavation of the cave floors and installation of lighting has been done with the utmost care to preserve the natural beauty of these ancient formations, making them accessible to the average visitor and protecting them from the vandalism that had been problematic in the past,” noted the Trust.
The Trust’s comments also noted that due to the efforts of Mr. Sorensen and his team, thousands of visitors will now be able to enjoy this amazing natural phenomenon.
Bringing a wealth of background and experience to the project, as Mr. Sorensen’s father Ole was behind the development of Barbados’s successful Harrison’s Caves attraction, Mr. Sorensen’s undertaking has taken many details and considerations into account that make for a truly unique experience.
The Cayman Compass has previously reported how Mr. Sorensen began developing the project in 1997 and spent much effort ensuring it met high standards of sustainability.
“Thanks to the use of ‘cave specialty’ LED lighting, algal and moss growth will be prevented. Guides knowledgeable in plant and animal names and traditional uses of the natural resources educate visitors on a daily basis whilst giving guided tours,” the Trust continued, further adding that even the access to the site was constructed with consideration for the environment.
“Mr. Sorensen purchased a mile of undeveloped, forested land (which will remain undeveloped) from the north coast road to the caves to make it accessible by car, clearing only what was necessary for vehicles to pass through and no more.”