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KINGSTON, Jamaica; September 24, 2020: The Ministry of Tourism, its agencies and industry partners will seek to further raise awareness about the transformative impact of tourism on rural communities through the observance of Tourism Awareness Week (TAW), from September 27 – October 3.
The week will be commemorated under the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) theme for World Tourism Day (September 27) – “Tourism and Rural Development”. The theme highlights the unique role that tourism plays in providing opportunities outside of big cities and preserving cultural and natural heritage all around the world.
Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett explained that: “As we re-imagine our tourism product in these uncertain times, the focus on rural development seems quite timely. Tourism in rural areas will provide important opportunities for recovery, as these communities seek to recuperate from the harsh economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“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,” he added.
In highlighting the role of the Ministry and its agencies over the years in using tourism as a tool to drive rural development, the Minister said, “we have always had a strong commitment to our rural communities, backed by policies and initiatives that promote sustainable economic growth and social inclusiveness.”
Some of the initiatives include, the Agri-linkages Exchange (ALEX) platform, which was set up to facilitate the purchase and exchange of goods between farmers and buyers within the hotel industry. This is aimed at increasing the use of local produce in tourism enterprises and supports the national thrust to reduce imports.
The Ministry has also engaged in Community Tourism initiatives in partnership with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), such as the National Community Tourism Policy; Community Tourism Portal; and Community Tourism Toolkit workshops.
Director of Tourism, Donovan White emphasized that: “As a destination Jamaica has encouraged rural development through community based tourism. Community involvement is the cornerstone of sustainable tourism development. Furthermore, community based tourism has made the sector accessible to more Jamaicans, provides jobs and allows more revenue to remain in rural communities.”
Activities for the week will include a youth photography contest and social media competitions, where persons will have the opportunity to win prizes by submitting unique photos, answering trivia questions or creating a jingle based on the theme.
The week, which starts on World Tourism Day, will begin with a church service at Trumpet Call Ministries International in Montego Bay, which will be hosted virtually. It will then continue with a Virtual Exposition on September 30, highlighting the works of local entrepreneurs and farmers from rural communities, who have benefitted from the tourism sector.
A Virtual Webinar is scheduled for Friday, October 2, beginning at 10:00 AM. Presenters will include: Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett; Donovan White, Director of Tourism; Angella Bennett – the Jamaica Tourist Board’s (JTB) Regional Director, Canada; Donnie Dawson – JTB’s Deputy Director, The Americas; Clifton Reader – President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA); and Jason Henzell, BREDS Organization/Chairman of Jakes Resort.