Through a contract between the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and Caribic Vacations Limited, eight Community Tourism Enterprises are expected to see an increase in visitors.
The enterprises include the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, Rastafari Indigenous Village, Treasure Beach Women’s Group, Bunkers Hill Experience, Cockpit Country Tours, CCAM Eco Tours, Ambassabeth Cabins, and the Charles Town Maroons.
Speaking at the contract-signing ceremony which took place at RIU, Ocho Rios, on Wednesday (December 5), Managing Director of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Omar Sweeney, said the initiative is aimed at improving and creating a sustainable livelihood for individuals within communities.
Under the contract, Caribic Vacations Limited will offer marketing, reservations and fulfilment services to the eight Community Tourism Enterprises for an initial period of one year, with the option to renew.
“When we make representation for these types of financing, one of the things we always say… this is about livelihood; it’s about people; it’s more than the person who will benefit from that actual investment. We know the challenges that micro, small and medium-sized enterprises face in accessing market and good training. We have a very delicate and unique product here, and we have to see how we can make the strategic investments here for that product to survive,” he said.
The signing ceremony, which concludes a Community Tourism Bootcamp that was held from December 3 to 5, forms part of activities being implemented under the Rural Micro Enterprise Enhancement Pilot Project.
The project is being funded by a $68-million grant from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Basic Needs Trust Fund Seventh Cycle (BNTF 7) Regional Coordination Component.
As part of its objective, the project is expected to demonstrate the extent to which the economic earning capacity of rural farmers and Community Tourism Enterprises can be enhanced by strengthening micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in agriculture and tourism to formally operate and to compete in the local, regional and international markets.
The total funding for the tourism component of the project is approximately $23 million and includes significant local and international marketing support for the Community Tourism Enterprises in the form of business mentorship and coaching, the provision of fire and safety equipment, signage, uniforms and other items to facilitate licensing of the enterprises by the Jamaica Tourist Board.
“It’s going to be successful because there is a whole shift in the market, especially in Europe, where people want to feel like when they go to places they think they are the only one there,” she said.