The St. Elizabeth Homecoming Foundation has launched a website (www.visitstelizabeth.com.jm), to promote tourism in the parish, and expose other developmental activities to targeted audiences.
The website is being financed from a grant of $4.9 million provided by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), and a $2.58 million contribution from the community. It was launched on Wednesday (January 18).
Speaking at the launch at the Everglades Conference Centre, Parrotte, Chairman of the Foundation, Donna Parchment Brown, said that the site will focus on developmental issues. She said it is an initiative to market St. Elizabeth as an emerging tourist destination, and part of the thrust to develop community- based tourism, as well as a voice for the Parish Development Committee (PDC).
“It is intended to be a significant tool in the marketing effort already being undertaken to bring people into the parish. Marketing St. Elizabeth and its tourism product can only succeed with the collaboration and support of our stakeholders, primarily those concerned with parish development and tourism, and we are facilitators in this process,” she told the gathering.
Project Manager at JSIF, Stephanie Hutchinson-Ffrench, said her agency was satisfied that the project can allow persons, locally and internationally, to obtain information on tourism accommodation, culture, attractions, places of interest and industries.
“And the Foundation is expected to keep populating the website with new information,” she stated.
She said that JSIF is delighted with the investment, and believes that it can be a model for other parishes seeking to promote and market their community tourism products and services.
“We live in an internet age, and if we do not keep abreast and utilize the technology, we will be left behind. We will continue to monitor the project and provide assistance to the Foundation, as they seek to promote the Best of St. ‘Bess,” she told her audience.
The website was developed by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS). Director of Corporate Services at the JIS, Errol Gardner, commended the Foundation, saying it has “evolved into an institution,”, and when a visitors go to the site, “if they are a first timer they would want to visit again” and if they are from overseas “they would want to come home."
He said that the objective is to use images to showcase assets and bring out the unique features and icons of St. Elizabeth.
“Special effort was made to present the information about the parish in a reader friendly form, such that it could be located without hassle, as many Jamaicans in the diaspora and beyond will be seeking this information,” Mr. Gardner outlined.
The website was funded under the JSIF Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), which seeks to boost the capacity of rural communities to promote and market local enterprise and community-based tourism, as part of the agency’s poverty reduction strategy.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter