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Tourism sites hurt by Hurricane Tomas’ fury

Tourism sites hurt by Hurricane Tomas’ fury

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The 2010/2011 cruise season may have started with great expectations, but Tomas has made sure that one of our nation’s premiere sites is out of commission for the time being.{{more}}

The Dark View Falls, located in the Richmond area of North Leeward, will need extensive work before it is serviceable again.

While the buildings and bridges suffered little damage, the once lush bamboo foliage is now bowed, as if in submission to nature’s awesome fury.

All access roads to the Falls are now blocked by bamboo and other fallen trees, and the vegetation of the surrounding areas was stripped by wind and landslides.

Luckily, none of the buildings at the site was damaged, but access paths will need to be cleared and debris removed. The new concrete bridge suffered minimal damage, while the old bamboo bridge was left unscathed, as it had been refurbished for the start of the cruise season.

On Tuesday, a delegation of officials from the Ministry of Tourism, the Parks and Beaches Authority and tour company Corea and Hazells Inc visited the site. Andrew Wilson of the Parks and Beaches Authority told SEARCHLIGHT that they intend to have the site back in, at least, partial operation by next week. Wilson said that they will be bringing in extra equipment and manpower, and will be working on clearing the trails first. Wilson also said that they are also working on a plan to utilize the bamboo that will be cleared from the site.

President of the Taxi Drivers Association Angus Martin told SEARCHLIGHT that he is hoping for some quick action to remedy the situation, as the Dark View Falls is one of the more popular sites on mainland St Vincent, and many of his association’s members take guests there: “Dark View is one of our mainstays”, he added.

In a telephone interview with Garth Williams of Corea and Hazells Inc. ship’s agent and tour operator, Williams said that his company is looking at helping out with the rehabilitation of the site. He said no firm decisions had been made, but the company will be monitoring the situation and holding dialogue with the relevant parties.

Williams also said that his company’s ‘Coastal and Waterfalls’ tour, which includes sailing, snorkeling and the Dark View Falls, is their signature tour; a group of about 150 cruisers from cruise ship Ventura was to have journeyed to the Falls yesterday.

The area around Dark View Falls was cleared in 2003, and since then, the site has become tha fastest growing tourist attraction in St Vincent and The Grenadines.

The Dark View Falls are three waterfalls that are fed out of the Morne Garu Mountain (Monkoshong); the bottom fall is over 80 feet in height, the second fall is just as spectacular, but with a shorter drop, while the top fall, which is more spectacular than the others, is inaccessible.

The Richmond hydroelectric station water catchment system is located at Dark View. Workers from the St. Vincent Electricity Company Ltd. (VINLEC) are currently working in the area to clear powerlines of trees that have fallen.

The Black Point and the Owia Salt Pond recreation sites, both on the north eastern coast of the mainland, are also closed until futher notice as a result of damage caused by the passage of Hurricane Tomas. (TY)

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