A special Community Tourism Unit is to be established in the Ministry of Tourism within the next five years.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett made the disclosure in his message for World Tourism Day on September 27.
The Minister said that the unit will be developed “to work with communities and hotels to expand participation by community members, while providing authentic experiences for all persons visiting Jamaica”.
He noted that the Ministry and its agencies are committed to working with rural communities to strengthen their resilience, create jobs and build economic opportunities.
“These communities are at the heart of our tourism product providing the authentic, unique experiences and local lifestyles that provide our visitors with more enriching experiences,” Minister Bartlett said.
“This is evident in the work of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) Tourism Linkages Network, which is widening the pool of persons benefiting from tourism by strengthening the relationship with other sectors of the economy,” he added.
He noted that one of the successes of the linkages network is the annual staging of the Blue Mountain Coffee Festival, which is “greatly benefiting coffee farmers and communities in the hills of rural St. Andrew”.
Mr. Bartlett said that the Ministry and its agencies have also encouraged rural development through community tourism.
“Community involvement is the cornerstone of sustainable tourism development,” he said.
World Tourism Day is part of Tourism Awareness Week activities from September 27 to October 3 under the theme ‘Tourism and Rural Development’.