Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has endorsed the Rastafarian Indigenous Village, located in Portobello, Irwin, St. James, as “a very good community based tourism project which is poised to bring tremendous benefits to Jamaica”.
The tourism project is being funded under the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s (JSIF) Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), at a cost of approximately $18 million.
“A lot of elements which go together to make up the Jamaican culture and heritage, including the Rastafarian culture, is present here at the village and I believe that this is a good project that seeks to attract visitors who would be interested in our culture,” the Tourism Minister told JIS News.
Dr. McNeill, accompanied by his Minister of State, Hon. Damion Crawford, and a team of officials from the tourism fraternity and JSIF, went on a comprehensive tour of the property on Friday (January 25).
“This Rastafarian Indigenous Village is one of those projects that has been developed with the community. We have come to visit today and based on what we have seen, the project is very professional and telling a story [that is] such an important part of the Jamaican culture that is Rastafarianism. So many people abroad see elements of it in the red green and gold and the locks. They see all these elements and also hear it in the music and then come to Jamaica where here, they have an opportunity to see more of that part of the roots and culture of the movement,” the Minister said.
“It’s early days yet, but I think what they have here is excellent and is certainly going to be a very successful project so I am very pleased with it and I think that now I am more convinced that we can push forward with the community tourism project. We will be having a meeting when we get back to the office to determine the way forward with this initiative and how we can also develop more projects such as this across the country that can unearth our heritage and culture, which is really the strongest element that differentiates us from the rest of the world,” Dr. McNeill added.
In the meantime, Managing Director of JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, told JIS News that her organization had always wanted to be involved with the tourism sector at the community level and was happy to be involved with the project.
“We are today very pleased that the Fund is in a position to work with the Indigenous Village. We are very happy to be involved and to partner, at last, with the tourism sector … fostering tourism development,” Mrs. Gillings noted.
The Rastafarian Indigenous Village is at 95 per cent completion, boasting a Solomonic Mall, Herbal Pharmacy, Ital Spice Kitchen, Ises or Conference Hall, Wellness Centre and Healing Garden, Museum, I-tech Centre and Print Shop and Recording Studio.