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Kingston, Jamaica: April 17, 2014 – The Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment hosted the first in a series of national consultations on the Community-Based Tourism Policy green paper yesterday (April 16) at Lovers’ Leap in St. Elizabeth. The aim of the consultations, which will be held in parishes across the island, is to elicit valuable feedback from community stakeholders and tourism partners.
The Community-Based Tourism Policy green paper, a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), was tabled in Parliament in February of this year. The consultations represent the final step towards making the policy a white paper.
Giving the main address at the consultation, State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Damion Crawford, said that in keeping with its mandate of “Tourism for All”, the ministry has been working to diversify the tourism products to ensure that every Jamaican has the opportunity to benefit from tourism.
Continuing his message of diversification, the state minister said that product diversification was as important as market diversification, as not all tourists come to Jamaica to see the same thing. “If you don’t diversify your product you cannot diversify your market. “You can’t sell Jamaica’s best beaches to a Brazilian because the Brazilians believe they have the best beaches,” Minister Crawford said.
“We also have to diversify tourism’s beneficiaries. It cannot be perceived as only for the few and only for the wealthy as not everyone is capable of making an initial high level investment,” he said. The Community Tourism Policy and Strategy is intended to add depth and diversity to the tourism product by encouraging a more widespread community participation in the sector. It will lay the foundation for an equitable and sustainable community tourism sector in Jamaica that benefits communities through economic development, job creation, and infrastructural development. Minister Crawford said that St. Elizabeth is best posed to be an example for community tourism that Jamaica and others will follow.
JSIF’s General Manager of Infrastructure & Civil Works, Andrew Neita, said his organization was happy to facilitate the “linking of communities in the dialogue for creation of a national policy with the intended end result of guiding tourism development at the level of underserved communities and groups.” JSIF’s Rural Economic Development Project (REDI), provided J$6,230,00.00 in grant funding for the development of the policy and strategy, made possible through loan funds from the World Bank.
“We believe this investment will support the development of entrepreneurship with communities, spawning sustainable livelihoods, income generation and employment within our underserved populations,” said the JSIF general manager added.
The community consultation was also attended by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, Jennifer Griffith; Member of Parliament South East St. Elizabeth , Richard Parchment; Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Dennis Hickey; Chairman, St Elizabeth Parish Development Committee, Jason Henzell; and the ministry’s Senior Director, Tourism Policy and Monitoring, Elecia Myers.