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Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says the Ministry is currently in the final stages of drafting a community based tourism policy for presentation to Cabinet.

The Minister was speaking at the official press launch of the St. Elizabeth Homecoming Foundation's 20th annual Homecoming Week celebrations, at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston, on October 30.

Dr. McNeill pointed out that community tourism "is an aspect of the product (that) the Ministry is working at diversifying."

He said the South Coast is one of Jamaica’s designated tourism resort areas, with St. Elizabeth holding pride of place. “The promotion of community tourism in St. Elizabeth, I believe, has positioned the parish quite strategically to the traveller who wants that intimate interaction with the authentic Jamaican experience,” the Minister said.

Dr. McNeill pointed out that one of the primary reasons that the annual home-coming event is so highly anticipated is because it provides the ideal opportunity for parishioners from near and far, to get together and enjoy what the parish has to offer.

“It is therefore not surprising to know that the St. Elizabeth Homecoming Foundation has really strong links with the Diaspora.  And this is important for our nation as we position Jamaica for sustainable growth. We need the input, creativity, and commitment of every Jamaican to achieve our goals,” he said.

He encouraged support for the Foundation’s week of activities, noting that “as we celebrate our 50th anniversary, and the twentieth staging of the St. Elizabeth Homecoming Celebrations, I encourage all Jamaicans, both here and abroad, from whatever parish you may hail, to come out and enjoy the festivities, the food, the attractions and the camaraderie of community life.”

Acting Chairman of the St. Elizabeth Homecoming Foundation, Kenry Jackson, noted that the Foundation has accomplished much over the last 20 years in terms of education, bringing investment to the parish, honouring the sons and daughters who have accomplished in their chosen fields and generally bringing focus to the parish.

He said that this year’s celebrations will focus on the students of the parish with a ‘Students’ Empowerment Week Programme’, where over 100 outstanding St. Elizabethans are scheduled to visit schools and share their personal experiences with students and teachers on topics such as the importance of acquiring a good education; discipline and respect for each other; career possibilities; the role of law and order in the creation of an orderly society and conflict resolution.

“This programme is designed to enhance students’ values and attitudes and help them to make wise career choices and to let them know that the country’s leadership will be in their hands in a short time,” Mr. Jackson said.

Other activities will include a Students’ Career Day Expo at Munro College, in collaboration with the University of the West Indies on November 16; the St. Elizabeth Parish Council Awards 50 Celebrations on November 24, where 50 outstanding parishioners will be awarded, in honour of Jamaica 50; a thanksgiving service at the St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Southfield on November 25; The Best of St. Bess Golden Awards Banquet at the Pegasus Hotel, November 27; and several community concerts in Balaclava, New Market Square, Black River and Southfield. There will also be a community day in Junction.

Member of Parliament for North East St. Elizabeth, Raymond Pryce, brought greetings on behalf of his colleague MPs. Mr. Pryce spoke of efforts to have a public health and education campaign in his constituency to address the current dengue outbreak and threat from water borne diseases, and asked the Foundation for its support.