Rafting resumes at the Rio Grande
Normal operations have resumed at the Rio Grande rafting, Portland's premier tourist attraction, following an emergency meeting held with representatives from the parish's Destination Assurance Council (DAC) and raft captains on Saturday.
The meeting was held at the lone raft-stand at Berrydale in the Rio Grande valley to discuss, among others things, several concerns raised by the approximately 67 registered raft captains, who are adamant that they will not backtrack on their decision to withdraw their services as long as John Marsh, a consultant to the Tourism Product Development Company TPDCo, still remains attached to the attraction
On Friday, the raft captains withdrew their services as a mark of protest, after the police allegedly damaged three rafts belonging to three farmers, who are reportedly living across the Rio Grande in the community of West Berrydale. The situation was further compounded when the raft captains also called for TPDCo to terminate the services of Marsh, who they claimed was in collusion with the lawmen.
"Based on today's meeting, we are satisfied with the discussions, and we will resume working with immediate effect," said Lawrence Chisolm, president of the Raft Captains Association.
"It was a fruitful meeting where we were able to express our concerns, and to recommend the necessary changes so as to keep Rio Grande rafting afloat. The DAC members were quite understanding, and they listened attentively as we related our concerns over the likelihood of a proposed increase for us, the likelihood of insurance, and health benefits."
In addressing the raft captains, the DAC chairman, Errol Hanna, said that it was rather unfortunate that they (raft captains) had to resort to strike action in a bid to get their concerns addressed.
"Rio Grande rafting is renowned internationally," said Hanna. "My colleague council member, Mrs Ann-Marie Vaz and I now have a clear understanding as to the many challenges faced by the raft captains, who are an integral part of the tourism product. What we have heard today warrants quick action on the part of TPDCo in ensuring the future of this industry."