Saturday, September 16, 2006

New therapeutic dolphin park waiting for approvals!

Stafford Burrowes, pending approvals, will develop a $500 million dolphin attraction at Point, a seaside community in Hanover, later this year for a Miami and Key Largo based rehabilitation company which plans to set up its practice in Jamaica.

The plan will give effect to a health tourism product that to now has only been talked about by policymakers.

Dr. David Nathanson, who runs a practice offering Dolphin Human Therapy (DHT), says he will be relocating his business to Jamaica once the therapy centre is built.

He anticipates that the new marine attraction could bring in an additional 67,600 more visitors per year for average stays of three weeks each.

The dolphin facility at Point is to have similar features to its forerunner in Ocho Rios, St. Ann but spread across a larger area of 20 acres.

Burrowes, managing director of Dolphin Cove, tells the Financial Gleaner he is still in the process of acquiring the land, saying the process began two and a half years ago, but refused to disclose the vendor with whom he is negotiating.

He was similarly cagey about financing, saying only that the mix included loans and equity.
The plan also has to hurdle planning and environmental approvals.

Burrowes said Nathanson was relocating his 40-year-old practice because the property he occupied in Florida had been sold by its owners.

"We want to start this year; we are waiting on permits," said the marine attractions owner/ developer, referring to approvals from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
"We plan to do something we don't do here, which is Dolphin Human Therapy.

The therapy is often used with autistic children.

"I am convinced that our programme can be a very great contributor to the Jamaican economy and to the development of disabled Jamaican children,"

said Nathanson in a letter to Burrowes, who is sold on the idea.

"Our planning for 2007 needs to begin almost immediately," said Nathanson in his letter.

DHT uses interaction with dolphins as a reward for correct responses in therapy for individuals diagnosed as autistic, persons with down syndrome, traumatic brain injury and other chromosomal abnormalities.

Nathanson operates 40 weeks per year in the US, suspending sessions when wintery water temperatures make it too cold for children with disabilities.

Shifting the practice to Jamaica, a tropical country, would allow the therapist to operate a seven-day clinic.

The proximity to Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.

"I would have done it here (Ocho Rios) if we had the capacity," said Burrowes who said he was anxious to get approvals, adding that the facility might require at least six more dolphins which he would likely have to import.

Nathanson treats approximately 200 families per week. His clients are mainly out of Europe.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"