JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Cultural tourism in St. James is expected to be significantly boosted with the opening of the newly developed a $23 million Rastafari Indigenous Village, situated at Irwin in the parish.
  • The project was officially opened by State Minister for Industry, Investment, and Commerce, and Member of Parliament for West Central St. James, where the attraction is situated, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams.
  • REDI is a project of the Government of Jamaica, jointly funded by the World Bank, which aims to improve market access for micro and small scale rural agricultural producers, tourism product, and other service providers.

Cultural tourism in St. James is expected to be significantly boosted with the opening of the newly developed a $23 million Rastafari Indigenous Village, situated at Irwin in the parish.

The attraction, which was officially opened on April 4, is a joint undertaking between the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), which provided $19.5 million in funding through the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), and the Rastafari Africa Hall Benevolent Society, which contributed $4 million. Inputs were also provided by other stakeholders, including the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).

Tours of the Village will form a significant feature of the parish’s cultural offerings to both locals and visitors from overseas.

The project was officially opened by State Minister for Industry, Investment, and Commerce, and Member of Parliament for West Central St. James, where the attraction is situated, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams.

In her remarks, Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams welcomed the project’s opening and thanked all of the stakeholders contributing to its development.

The State Minister described the Village’s concept as “a great vision of how we can do community tourism projects”, while highlighting the use of indigenous materials, particularly bamboo.

Noting the Government’s focus on using bamboo to develop and advance Jamaica’s craft and creative industries, Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams contended that this is “a way forward for rural development.”

She said, in keeping with this, the Ministry is currently developing a special bamboo project. She further advised that a mini-conference, focusing on bamboo is slated to be held in Jamaica involving representatives of the Governments of Jamaica, and People’s Republic of China.

Meanwhile, in remarks read by Tourism and Entertainment Ministry Regional Director, Rosemarie Johnson, Permanent Secretary, Jennifer Griffith, described the Village as “a shining example of the great things that can be achieved when we harness the immense potential of our culture to create world class tourist attractions at the community level.”

“Our culture remains extremely attractive to persons from all across the globe, and the Rastafari culture is very unique and captivating,” she stated. Ms. Griffith said the project is a “unique and appealing one”, which will significantly enhance the island’s tourism product.

General Manager, Project Implementation, JSIF, Loy Malcolm, said the entity’s involvement in the development arose from the government’s charge to the organization to “broaden its scope”, and focus on activities that will result in  poverty reduction and wealth creation.

Ms. Malcolm said the project’s implementation is timely and consistent with plans to develop a community-based tourism policy, supported by the REDI project, which is “far advanced.” REDI is a project of the Government of Jamaica, jointly funded by the World Bank, which aims to improve market access for micro and small scale rural agricultural producers, tourism product, and other service providers. One of its aims is to support the development of community-based tourism as a viable option and opportunity for economic investment.