The annual skydiving event known as Boogie in Belize became such a big event in Belize and a positive impact on tourism that even the Belize Tourism Board gave it special recognition and endorsement. But sadly there will be no more Boogies in Belize; after its seventh annual straight run this past February, 2011, creator/owner Rich Grimm has made this announcement official this week.
Since the news started to spread through Facebook and other websites, Rich Grimm explained why he is now moving the Boogie in Belize to Nicaragua. He outlines the three main reasons why the Boogie is moving to a new location:
The landing area is not safe to fly our parachutes into. It’s getting way too crowded with “stuff.” That worries a lot of the jumpers that arrive for the first time. The winds also play havoc with us due to the Reef Village complex. When the wind comes off the lagoon side, we get strong rotors (wind chop) off of the condos. We are really limited by the wind direction now for good jumping days. Safety is reason number one. Unfortunately there isn’t another area on the island that is north of the airstrip, on the ocean side and close enough for a quick trip back into the SunBreeze Hotel dock.
The new location in Nicaragua has a runway right next to a lovely all inclusive resort, right on the Pacific with miles of open beach to land on and acres of open grass area next to the runway.
The Nicaraguan tourism board (INTUR) is handling all aspects of the boogie with their own civil aviation department. They are also providing our aviation fuel and a tanker for the event. They see the value in this and have assigned a high level staff person in their office to work with me directly. They want to make this into a national festival for the locals and visitors alike. INTUR will post it on their website and also get the word out to all of their contacts in the tourism industry. The Nicaraguan government is waiving all aviation fees for our jump plane. INTUR will be spending about $25,000usd promoting and sponsoring the event. This will be huge in keeping the cost low so the jumpers can spend more on local activities.
Logistics and Cost
The new site will make operations MUCH easier to oversee and control. We will have our own manifest, packing and dirt diving area in the resort. This will be right on the beach that we will land on. A tram will take the jumpers to the airstrip to await the plane. We won’t have the added expense of a transport/safety boat. I won’t have to barge a fuel truck out from the mainland. The jumpers will get 20 skydives and an extra night stay, plus all of their food and drinks for just $300 more than we charged in Belize for 17 jumps, nine nights and no food or drinks. We can also host the entire group at one hotel. That makes reservations MUCH easier for me. And the jumpers like the idea of all staying in the same location.
The “Boogie in Belize” events are legendary in skydiver lore now. The Blue Hole jump and other video and photos have done more for tourism to Belize than you can imagine. We have brought over one thousand participants in seven years. So many local business members and residents have helped me so much over the years. I thank them all. Without their support, “Boogie in Belize I” would have never happened and the following years would not have been as successful.
I’m not sure what the future holds for me in Belize. I would like to have a tandem operation for a few months each winter. We could also bring some smaller groups down and jump on Caye Caulker and other areas of the country. Belize is in my blood, like many of you reading this. I have made so many wonderful friends over the years. Hopefully a boogie will be back some time in the future."
Time will tell.