Feature
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Story Highlights

  • With more than 800 employees locally and 1,000 more at locations across the Caribbean, Chukka Caribbean Adventures has been quietly emerging as Jamaica’s biggest attraction company and a major pull factor for the country’s booming tourism sector.
  • The company operates more than 60 adventure tours for all ages in Jamaica, Belize, and Turks and Caicos Islands, including horseback riding, zip line canopy, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safari, river tubing/kayaking, river rafting, waterfalls, power snorkelling, catamaran, among others.
  • Chukka’s newest tourism offering, Zip Line over Dunn’s River –at the Dunn’s River Falls, officially opened last October, adding to the exhilarating experience at the park, which is world-famous for its waterfall.

With more than 800 employees locally and 1,000 more at locations across the Caribbean, Chukka Caribbean Adventures has been quietly emerging as Jamaica’s biggest attraction company and a major pull factor for the country’s booming tourism sector.

The company operates more than 60 adventure tours for all ages in Jamaica, Belize, and Turks and Caicos Islands, including horseback riding, zip line canopy, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safari, river tubing/kayaking, river rafting, waterfalls, power snorkelling, catamaran, among others.

Chukka’s newest tourism offering, Zip Line over Dunn’s River –at the Dunn’s River Falls, officially opened last October, adding to the exhilarating experience at the park, which is world-famous for its waterfall.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Chukka Caribbean Adventures, Marc Melville, tells JIS News that the company takes pride in showcasing the natural beauty of Jamaica the wider Caribbean “through unique and sensational experiences,” while providing opportunities for local residents to earn a living.

He attributes the company’s success to “a great team, which is complemented by a dedicated management staff”.

“The Chukka story is not that complicated,” Mr. Melville notes.

“We are first and foremost a Jamaican company that works very closely with the Ministry of Tourism, which we consider to be a very important partner,” he says.

“We also work very closely with the cruise lines and the hotels, as our aim is always to maintain the highest quality product so it can be a win-win for everybody,” he adds.

For his part, childhood friend and the company’s Executive Director, John Byles, says the Chukka journey has had its fair share of “hitches and glitches”, noting that “we have had to dig deep at times to remain focused”.

“We are our brother’s and sister’s keepers here at Chukka… we are a family,” Mr. Byles says.

“We are a large employer of persons and we know that comes with a lot of responsibility. Our newest addition here at Dunn’s River Falls where we have introduced the popular zip line will also be creating more jobs,” he adds.

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, hails Chukka as a reliable partner and a major credit to Jamaica’s tourism offerings.

“Chukka’s contribution to the tourism industry is immeasurable. Their attractions are world-class, both in product and service, and they are a major pull factor for both cruise and stopover visitors,” he notes.

Meanwhile, Minister of National Security, Dr. the Hon. Horace Chang, tells JIS News that the 30-year-old company, which sprang from the Melville family’s passion for polo and the “curious practice of swimming with horses”, has grown to become one of the biggest and most successful tourism enterprises in the Caribbean.

Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang (centre), is flanked by Chukka Caribbean Adventures’ Chief Executive Officer, Marc Melville (right); and the company’s Executive Director, John Byles, during a tour of Chukka’s newest attraction at Dunn’s River Falls, recently.

 

“I fondly recall in the early 1980’s, where the senior Melville (Danny), hosted polo matches on Saturdays at his polo field in Ocho Rios, while on Sundays, to help the horses relax, the polo players took the horses swimming in the clear saltwater of Mammee Bay, St. Ann,” he says.

“International polo players and curious onlookers liked what they saw and so an idea was born. The combination of the scenic ride along a spectacular coast and a thrilling swim on horseback proved to be a launching pad for the company,” he notes further.

Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay, Councillor Michael Belnavis, for his part, says that the Chukka story is also a St. Ann story, noting that the company had its origins in Draxhall, St. Ann.

“Chukka is truly a Jamaican success story that had its origins in the garden parish,” he says.

“I am very excited about the new partnership they have forged with the Urban Development Corporation in what is now a Zip Line over Dunn’s River tour. Ocho Rios, St. Ann and by extension the entire Jamaica will benefit,” Mr. Belnavis says.

Founded in 1983, Chukka has locations in Ocho Rios, Falmouth, Negril, Montego Bay and Sandy Bay.

Last year (2019), the company was awarded the title of Tour Operator of the Year, out of 350 operators, by Carnival Cruise Line (CCL).

The company, through its Chukka Foundation, is also involved in a number of charitable causes, notably in education.

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