KINGSTON — The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) has partnered with the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) on a policy and strategy framework for community-based tourism projects in Jamaica.
The initiative should significantly boost community tourism, using a collective approach in designing a programme to improve and standardize this aspect of the industry.
Speaking at the launch of the national consultation on community-based tourism, recently, at the Devonshire Restaurant in Kingston, Managing Director of JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, said the agency was pleased to be a partner.
Mrs. Gillings added that the implementation of the policy was an opportunity to link communities with the Tourism Ministry, and its departments and agencies, to achieve the desired objectives.
“The focus is now on small and informal community-based tourism projects in rural Jamaica, which are set to receive greater support through the policy and which will allow small enterprises to increase their involvement in the wider tourism industry,” she said.
She pointed out that community-based tourism provides for the transmitting of local cultures to visitors, utilizing activities within communities that promote sustainable socio-cultural and environmental benefits for residents.
Mrs. Gillings also noted that community tourism, in Jamaica, will foster greater interaction among sellers of the product and visitors, increase revenue within the sector.
She said that the initiative is a step towards diversifying the tourism sector, and urged players in the market to find a niche and funnel their energies into it. She also called on entrepreneurs to learn more about local culture, and find innovative ways to promote the Jamaican product.
She said that the implementation of community tourism will give residents in rural communities the opportunity to obtain a sustainable livelihood, and emphasized partnerships to guide them into providing a good quality product, in a sustainable manner.
Permanent Secretary in the Tourism Ministry, Jennifer Griffith, said that community-based tourism was an important tool to be used to promote Brand Jamaica.
Jamaica is cited by Judy Karwacki, community-based tourism consultant, as being a leader in the development of policies and strategies for community-based projects, which is a pertinent model for the Caribbean to embrace, she said.
The development of the community-based tourism policy and its strategy framework falls under the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), and is being funded by a US$15 million loan from the World Bank.
By Toni-Anne Russell