February 16, 2005

Zion Country boosts tourism in Ja

ZION COUNTRY is a small tourism enterprise which speaks of the good business prospects to be gained from niche market tourism in Jamaica.

Established seven years ago in Long Road, Portland, the rustic eco-friendly resort offers its local and foreign customers, a plethora of cultural adventures centred around a real ‘rootsy Jamaican country life’ setting.

Its product is an alternative to the accommodation lobby type tourism generally offered to Jamaican tourists and has been attracting the group registering the highest per cent growth in tourism arrivals for year 2004.

Proprietor and managing director of Zion Country, Dutch native, Ennering Fredericus said he invested about J$8 million to set up the business and has been reinvesting his profits in the venture ever since.

“We have built a new building, new houses on the property, done some repairs to the roofs and painted the place,” he told¬†Wednesday Business.

He said his major reason for purchasing the almost two acres of land to set up Zion Country was to provide more employment for the community.

UNIQUE GUEST SERVICE 

Zion Country’s guests may relax in any or all four of the wooden Zion Country beach cabins on their visit to this secluded spot.

Noticeably and intentionally absent from the guest rooms are electricity, telephones, television and other modern conveniences in order to capture the essence of the rural quality of life in Jamaica.

Guests are charged a local rate of J$1,700 to J$2,000 per night and a tourist rate of J$1,800 to J$2,400 per night for the beach cabins. The rates include a continental breakfast.

To compliment this setting, Zion Country’s guests are taken on nature tours and hiking trips as far as Blue Mountain Peak or the Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road, St. Andrew. They also have a beautiful view of manatees from their cabins which overlook Manchioneal Bay.

GOOD BUSINESS

Mr. Fredericus affectionately known as ‘Free I’, says business has been fairly good. European and American tourists, are his most frequent clients. They consider his resort an appealing alternative to the traditional products.

According to director of standards at the Tourism Products Development Corpo-ration (TPDCo.), Mary Helen Reece, there has been an increase in demand from the European travel market for more adventure-type tourism.

The resort is also said to be an attractive option for students seeking different types of adventures on school trips.

SHORT-TERM GOALS

Free I said he would like to see more locals visiting the attraction especially after May when the tourist season slows down.

“I get 95 per cent of the business through advertising through the Internet,” he explained. “The other five per cent is via word-of-mouth advertising,”

As to support from the JTB, he said “Since the last five years in Jamaica, tourism has been the number one income earner in Jamaica. I know nothing about the Jamaica Tourist Board’s or TPDCo.”

“You may get a little help from those people after begging for a long time. They make you feel as if you are just a small place so it’s not a big thing, ” he added.

LONG-TERM GOALS

Zion Country employs two persons. Free I would like to grow his business in order to accommodate more. “I am a foreigner investor in this country, not necessarily to become rich but to make a living and open up more employment opportunities for persons within the community, ” he said.

“I don’t want to go too big and have too many people on a small space,” he emphasised. He said he markets the other natural aspects of Portland while marketing his business to foreigners. Unfortunately however, many times they arrive to Jamaica disappointed.

“The Government has jumped into the natural attractions and cannot manage them,” he said pointing out that since the take over by government agencies, major attractions such as Reich Falls, The Blue Lagoon and Navy Island have been closed down.