Rain Forest President Preschel about Emilio Wilson Estate: “The economic impact will be significant”POSTED: 02/5/15 5:06 PM
St. Maarten – The impact of creating a new sustainable adventure park in St Maarten will be significant, generating jobs and increased tourism visits, says Rainforest Adventures president, Josef Preschel.
“The economic impact to St Maarten should not be ignored. In addition to lease payments to government, new permanent sources of tax revenues from employment, restaurants, merchandising and transportation will be created for the island, while increasing the tourist experience significantly,” says Preschel.
Rainforest Adventures is an award-winning designer and operator of sustainable adventure parks, having operated for more than 20 years. Their parks have enhanced destination experiences in Costa Rica, Jamaica, and St Lucia, Preschel says. “Parks are carefully planned to have a minimal footprint, connect visitors to nature, provide education on the importance of nature conservation and support local employment.”
“Less than five per cent of the surface area of the Emilio Wilson Estate will be impacted by the Rainforest Adventures development, with a commitment to reforestation and stewardship of the land,” says Preschel, about the plans to develop the Emilio Wilson Estate. “It will create between 40 and 60 direct jobs for young locals and indirect jobs in the transportation, merchandising and food industry, and representing a significant addition to the overall tourist experiences offered in St Maarten, satisfying a clear need. Visiting the park will be a unique experience providing memories for years to come.”
All of Rainforest Adventures existing park locations and operations have on-going practices in place to reduce the impact on the environment from water and energy savings to recycling programs, Preschel says. “In addition to these programs, Rainforest Adventures has a commitment to buying local, and encouraging their guests to do the same. The parks have an agreement with local artisans in which they are invited to showcase their crafts for sale to guests.”
With a focus on social sustainability, Rainforest Adventures employs more than 500 local, multilingual guides at all of their parks. Each guide adds depth and color to the visitor experience by sharing insider information about the region’s rainforests, native plants and animals and about local customs, cultures and traditions.
“Rainforest Adventures is committed to minimizing its overall impact on the environment, while encouraging its guests to take the in-park methods and apply them at home. Parks feature education centers where guests can learn about conservation and the importance of preserving the world’s natural resources,” Preschel says. “Understanding that youth are future policymakers, Rainforest Adventures pays special attention to this demographic by offering a number of all-age, family-centric experiences, activities and exhibitions that are designed to empower and educate youth about the environment.”
“With the commitment to sustainability, government and NGOs have taken notice,” Preschel adds. Rainforest Adventures Costa Rica Pacific has been recognized for its sustainability by the country’s government, earning an Ecological Flag, a Blue Flag, a Decree of National Interest for the Republic of Costa Rica and Certification for Sustainable Tourism. Both Costa Rica parks were verified by the Rainforest Alliance– a standard recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council – achieving the highest rating possible. In 2012, EARTH University officially certified the Costa Rica Atlantic park as carbon neutral, Costa Rica’s first tour operation to receive a carbon neutral title.
“This same commitment to sustainability will be applied to the new park in St Maarten. The project will consist of a chairlift to the top of the mountain overlooking the entire island and a view extending out to all the neighboring islands. It will bestow on visitors an “Aha!” moment that they will remember for a very long time,” says Preschel. “There will be five appealing attractions in a world class park, all of which will be built and operated to US and European standards. Three of these will be new and unique to St Maarten.”
Rainforest Adventures new park will include the renovation of the original plantation house built by John Philips (namesake of Philipsburg), “turning it into a museum and celebrating and sharing the powerful story of Emilio Wilson whose dream became reality when he purchased this plantation where his great grandmother was born as a slave. In addition the original stone boiling house will be renovated and used for daily operations as well as a venue for special events.”