Chukka offering free river tubing tour to front-line workers

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Noting that nobody has stood taller amid the novel coronavirus pandemic than front line workers, Chukka Caribbean Adventures is currently offering a complimentary river tubing tour to the island’s doctors and nurses.

Chukka operates nine attractions in Jamaica.

According to Khristina Rose, Chukka’s group marketing manager, the company is not just restricting the gesture to the medical professionals at its Jamaica location, but is also giving the option of a free zip line tour in the Dominican Republic.

Rose added that Chukka has been moved by the images of front line workers across the world putting it all on the line to save lives, and felt that this was a great way to show some appreciation once the tourism sector returns to some semblance of normality.

She also noted that the complimentary tours are not being done only because the tourism sector is reopening, but that Chukka simply wants to do its part in paying respect to those who have placed “duty over self”.

“We have been running this offer since the 1st of April and will continue through July 1,” Rose stressed.

“It is for both local and foreign doctors and nurses, and they have a choice to take their free tour in Jamaica or the Dominican Republic — our newest location. It is actually going better than we anticipated. We have over 1,100 persons registered so far and we are still in the early stages of June.”

Marc Melville, Chukka’s chief executive officer (CEO), said that it’s through the bravery and selfless nature of the front line workers — notably doctors and nurses — that economies across the world can even now be contemplating the reopening of their borders.

“We are doing this because we understand how tough it has been in this vast period of uncertainty as to the science of the virus, how it is transmitted and its mortality rate. We appreciate the stress and commitment they gave while many of us stayed in our personal surroundings waiting for it to end. And for that, we are truly appreciative and that’s why we did it. We know their effort would allow for our industry and country to come back bigger, better, stronger, and faster,” Melville pointed out.

Meanwhile, the Chukka CEO said it has been a difficult and trying period, mostly “for our team members and families” who have all been affected by our pause in operations, not only in Jamaica, but in the Dominican Republic, Grand Turk [Turks & Caicos] and Belize, adding, “but as we know this is not a Chukka problem, industry or Caribbean problem — this is a global problem”.

“We have used this period productively to focus on the things that could be improved. We re-engineered our sales and marketing programmes, conducted staff training, secured our assets, made repairs and maintenance, did location improvement, and focused a lot on information technology (IT). We will be relaunching with electronic check-in and waivers, plus a myriad of other IT projects. We made a list of all the things we wanted to improve about the business, team, and structure, and we used this period to focus on that,” Melville added.

With more than 800 employees locally and 1,000 more across the Caribbean, Chukka Caribbean Adventures has been quietly emerging as a major pull factor for the country’s once-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 safari, river tubing/kayaking, river rafting, waterfalls, power snorkelling, and catamaran.

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has hailed 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,” said Bartlett.

Last year, the company was awarded the title of Tour Operator of the Year, from a total of 350 operators, by Carnival Cruise Line.

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

— Horace Hines

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