Community tourism thrust for Jamaica
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday December 15, 2011 – A private-public sector initiative has resulted in the launch of an island-wide programme that will see tourism in Jamaica no longer the exclusive purvey of the coastal resort towns.
The official launch of the Countrystyle Community Tourism Network (CCTN) and National Best Community Foundation Villages as Businesses Programme earlier this week saw representatives from 360 communities island-wide assemble at the Mandeville Hotel in Manchester to support the initiative.
The mission is for communities to benefit directly from their assets built on unique cultural and human capital. The programme includes training and collaborative work with partners Western Hospitality Institute and International Community Tourism Institute.
Alison Massa, lead consultant for CCTN/Villages as Businesses Programme presented lost opportunities – a World Bank project involving Bath St Thomas of the Apostles, the oldest botanical gardens in the Western Hemisphere with medicinal plants and curative mineral spa – and firmly stated that such community projects featuring natural and cultural assets would no longer meet the same fate.
Valerie Viera, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation spoke frankly to community entrepreneurs, asking them to prepare themselves for the rigours of operating a business in a profitable way. She promised the founders of the CCTN/Villages as Business Programme her agency’s support in the training and development of entrepreneurs. She added that money was no barrier for application, but the output from the enterprise and its impact on the value chain would be key.
Euneika Rogers-Sipp, founder and chief regenerative officer of Sustainable Rural Regenerative Enterprises for Families (SURREF), a social enterprise organization that promotes community-based livelihood opportunities through regenerative enterprises (such as the use of clean and renewable energy and culturally sound development practices) spoke on the overall objectives of the organization, presented a video of its background & projects. SURREF is the recipient of a four-year Ford Foundation Grant assisting poor communities in the south. She indicated that SURREF’s innovative approach to sustainable rural regeneration is the key to their success.
Rogers-Sipp said “the group’s learning journey would allow interactive learning from the villages business program, looking at the network of CCTN how it got started, support, kinds of investment and also look at wealth capacity. SURREF contextualizes wealth in seven forms: Natural, Built environment, Political, Intellectual, Social, Financial and Economic.”