The reopening of the legendary Lover's Leap attraction in St. Elizabeth, and plans for the development of the facility, is seen as a significant boost to the tourism product on the south coast.
The breathtaking attraction, which holds its fame in the powerful but tragic love story of two young slaves, reopened in March after being closed for almost two years.
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Wykeham McNeill, who toured the facility on March 23, said Lover’s Leap would welcome visitors, even while it is still being upgraded.
The work being undertaken, he said, “is about ensuring that it can accommodate just about any high quality event while portraying the historical essence that it is known for”.
He informed that a visitor’s information centre will also be put in to promote other attractions in the area. “Visitors, who come here, can get information from this location about other locations. It is not in competition with others, it is something to lift up the area and to be a boost to the south coast,” he stated.
Minister NcNeill said the facility is also a source of employment for young people in the area. “I was very pleased to see our young tour guides. As I was taken through the tour…you realise that the persons, who are employed here, come from the surrounding community, and that, in itself, is also a positive,” he said.
Chairman of Jake’s Resort, Hotel and Spa, Jason Henzell, who was also on the tour, said that Lover’s Leap is “significant” to the entire south coast.
“Because this is a historical landmark and the fact that it is going to have an information centre will give the other hotels, guesthouses and attractions a boost, especially in Treasure Beach, where we are still building our name as a destination. This helps to add to our offerings and enhances the visitor experience,” he stated.
He noted further that the attraction, which is owned and operated by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) fits well into the community tourism concept that is being promoted in the area.
“This area of Jamaica offers an authentic experience and we are the model for community tourism. We are serious about community development and Lover’s Leap will play a big part in that,” he stated.
Chairman of the South Coast Chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association (JHTA), Judy Schoenbein, said her organisation stands ready to help in the restoration of Lover’s Leap.
She said that the attraction offers a lot of potential to promote heritage tourism, which is a growing area of the industry worldwide. “Tourists want to know more about us and we have to preserve the heritage. We need to build on Lover’s Leap, now,” she stated.
Regional Co-ordinator of TPDCo Fabian Holness, said that in addition to employment creation, the reopening of Lover’s Leap adds to Jamaica’s diverse product offerings.
“Visitors see a different side (of Jamaica) on the south coast. It allows you to see farming communities, people actually doing farming. We want to include it in the tourism product as part of our community tourism thrust. It has diversified the product significantly,” he stated.
Lover's Leap is a picturesque attraction, which emerges where the Santa Cruz Mountains come to an abrupt end, exposing an almost 1,700-foot vertical drop down to the waves crashing on Cutlass Bay below.
There is a lookout point, which provides a fantastic vantage point, allowing visitors to see as far as Rocky Point, Clarendon, to the east, and Treasure Beach to the west.
The story of Lover’s Leap is based on the romance of two slaves who, in order to prevent separation, jumped from the cliff, and is told daily to visitors to the facility.
The attraction is popular for weddings and social events, as well as sightseeing. It was closed after the previous operator, which leased the property from the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), suddenly decided to end the lease arrangement.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter