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The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) has signed a contract  with  the National Best Community Foundation and the Country style Community Tourism Network, valued at some $16 million, to benefit  nine communities from six parishes.

This agreement is for the implementation of a community-based Tourism Strengthening and Promotion project, with a start-up date of June 26, 2012.

The signing took place on June 14 in one of the beneficiary communities, Beeston Spring, Westmoreland, with Project Manager, Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), at JSIF, Stephanie Hutchinson-Ffrench, signing on behalf of JSIF.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Best Community Foundation (NBCF), Jacqueline Dacosta; and President of the Countrystyle Community Tourism Network (CCTN), Diana McIntyre-Pike, signed on behalf of their respective organisations.  Parish Manager of the Social Development Commission (SDC), Westmoreland, Ron Daley, signed on behalf of the beneficiary communities.

According to Mrs. Hutchinson-Ffrench, the project is one that will not only make a significant contribution to Jamaica’s tourism product, but will also impact the economic prospects of all nine beneficiary communities.

The communities are Lancaster and Resource, in Manchester; Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth; Albert Town, Trelawny; Charles Town, Portland; Hopewell and Axe-And-Adze, Hanover; and Bluefields and Beeston Spring, Westmoreland.

Mrs. Hutchinson-Ffrench  explained that JSIF will provide approximately $13 million for the implementation of the project through funds from REDI, while the NBCF, CCTN and the nine beneficiary communities will provide the remaining $3 million as community contribution.

“The goal of the project is in keeping with the Government of Jamaica’s draft community based tourism policy, which seeks to implement strategies to assist communities that offer a community based tourism product, to move from start-up to market ready,” she said.

She pointed out that over 200 persons will be benefiting directly from the project, while there will also be indirect economic and social spin-offs accruing to the wider communities involved.

The project will involve the following activities:

(1)   An assessment of gaps and areas of opportunity for each community.

(2)   Team Jamaica training for approximately 120 persons engaged in providing a tourism service or product.

(3)   A comprehensive community tourism sensitisation programme.

(4)   Conducting familiarisation tours with ground tour operators to experience the tourism product first hand, with a view that they will include the nine communities in the packages they sell.

(5)   The production of promotional material and erection of directional and community signs.

Minister of State with responsibility for Special Projects in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Luther Buchanan, who also spoke at the signing,  argued that it would be very beneficial to the nation if more communities get involved in community oriented projects, as this would bring back a sense of pride, as it relates to community development and the upliftment of persons.

“Until we have developed the human capital that we have, we will never truly develop communities,” he said.

He lauded JSIF for the work that they have been doing in communities across the island.

 

By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter