JIS News

Tourism Minister, Ed Bartlett, has said that more focus will be placed on community tourism over the next five years, to capitalise on the shift towards heritage and cultural vacations.
Minister Bartlett, in a speech read by Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Earl Patrick, at the Accompong Maroon Festival yesterday (Jan. 6) in St. Elizabeth, said that there has been a shift away from the traditional sun, sea and sand vacation concept, as visitors are seeking to interact more with the people and cultural aspects of their destination of choice. “As such, it is imperative that our focus be shifted to the development of community-based tourism efforts,” he stated.
According to Minister Bartlett, community tourism facilitates the empowerment of a community by allowing it to maximise on its cultural and heritage assets to create income-generating projects, which also provide a value-added experience for both visitors and residents.
He said that the vacation concept allows for more participation by locals in the decision-making process and, “because they feel a part of it and are realising the direct potential and impact of tourism to them, pride is created allowing for a better tourism product.”
The Minister commended the maroons for keeping their traditions alive through the staging of the annual festival of dancing, marching and drumming, noting that the event is keeping with the Ministry’s increased focus on community tourism.
Highlighting areas of the festival that have stood out, such as the traditional march to the Kindah Tree, the Kromanti music and dance, Minister Bartlett said that if the event is managed and marketed properly, it could attract visitors to the island, who are seeking cultural experiences.
This year’s festival marked the 271st anniversary of the Peace Treaty, which granted the Accompong Maroons full liberty from the British Government. The treaty was signed in 1738.
The annual festival is a main event on the Jamaica Tourist Board’s heritage calendar.

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