Government is hoping that the re-commissioning of the Mt. Gazo visitor centre in Perdmontemps will provide opportunities for persons seeking to promote eco-tourism.
The new building, which was funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will be able to facilitate tours, hikes and other eco-tourism activities from both locals and visitors.
During a recent ceremony held to re-commission the facility, UNDP Resident Representative for Barbados and the OECS, Stephen O’Mally spoke of the income generating benefits community members can hopefully take advantage of.
“With its unique eco-system and its incredible breathtaking view, Mt Gazo was once recognised as one of the top eco-tourism sites in the country before Hurricane Ivan, and I think … the reopening of the centre will provide new opportunities to both visitors seeking unique experiences in Grenada but also to the citizens of Grenada to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful country,” he said.
“The building also provides the government with opportunities to find new ways of income generation for local community members and the private sector; hopefully the upgrading of the trails and signage would elevate the visitor experience as well,” he added.
With the Forestry department of the Ministry of Agriculture playing an integral role in what the facility will provide, Acting Chief Forestry Officer, Anthony Jeremiah highlighted the benefits that can be derived from what the forest can provide.
“You would realise that the characteristics of the Mt. Gazo Forest reserve does not generally depict the forest cover of this general landscape. So, this forest reserve really depicts an upland watershed – most of the species that you would see in this forest reserve are species native to the Grand Etang or the higher elevation but somehow this area was able to re-vegetate itself over the years and remain intact and has matured in such a way that it became one of the most attractive areas as a forest and has benefitted and provided many eco-system services to date,” he said.
According to Jeremiah, the area has tremendous potential for the development of tourism related services.
“What is being exhibited here today is just the tip of the iceberg.
The opportunity here is extensive and infinite and I want to ensure that from past projects with the development of the trails; the Mt Gazo Forest Reserve has been designed with a trail network that offers great opportunity for recreation persons to walk and to view and to explore the great benefits of the forest reserve. In moving forward, I would like us to completely install and restore all the components and attributes of this area to ensure that the area fulfill its true potential,” he said.
Minister with responsibility for Forestry and Fisheries, Alvin Dabreo disclosed that there are plans in the making to outsource the management of the centre through private citizens.
“We would ensure that the arrangements will be in keeping with the national standards in terms of code of practice in the management of tourist attractions.
“I also wish to charge the Forestry Department to further establish trails and also on those trails, work with the service providers to put adequate sign posts and put names for all the different species and vegetation that we have here.
“We know that it would ensure a beautiful experience for all the tourists that come to visit our site and who have the strength to make it to the top where the platform is.
Parliamentary Representative for St. David, Oliver Joseph in echoing the sentiments of his colleague minister and the UNDP representative said the re-commissioning of the facility will result in tourism opportunities for residents in the area and other surrounding communities.