JIS News

Rafts men operating on the Rio Grande River in Portland have received cheques totalling $680,000 to enable them to revive their operations after setbacks caused by Hurricane Ivan last September.
The money came from the Tourism Development Fund, which was set up by government to provide grant assistance for tourism-related businesses. The fund is administered by the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC) and Development Options Limited.
At the presentation ceremony held at Rafters Rest in St. Margaret’s Bay on January 27, 68 raft captains were presented with cheques of $10,000 each.
A large amount of rafts were either extensively damaged or destroyed by the hurricane, putting a significant amount of raft operators out of business, and adversely affecting rafting on the Rio Grande, which is one of Jamaica’s major tourist attractions.
Steve Dunkley, Business Development Officer at the JBDC, who handed out the cheques, commended the rafts men for persevering with their operations despite the setback caused by the hurricane.
In his remarks, Dr. Donald Rhodd, State Minister for Education, Youth and Culture and Member of Parliament for Eastern Portland, expressed gratitude to the government for the assistance given to the rafts men.
He expressed confidence that the money would go a far way in enabling the beneficiaries to repair or replace rafts and to possibility expand their operations.
He declared that the gesture was part of a wider effort by government to initiate and implement projects aimed at the social and economic development of Portland, mentioning the recently constructed Marina Development Complex in Port Antonio, and the Portland segment of the North Coast Highway project.
The rafts men expressed gratitude to the government for the assistance and promised to use the money to improve their operations for the overall benefit of the tourism industry.