The announcement of Minister of Tourism, The Honourable Edmund Bartlett, on December 3, 2021, at the 24th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in Madrid, Spain, of his intention to invest and promote Village Tourism in Jamaica is welcomed by all Community Tourism partners. Delegates who approved the Redesigning Tourism for the Future Task Force agreed that this was a big victory for World Tourism.
BRAND Jamaica is known for being the home of the fastest man and the fastest woman on planet earth, Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson-Herah, Reggae, Bob Marley and its first National Hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Jamaica is also the HOME OF COMMUNITY TOURISM, having given birth some 47 years ago and been so branded in 1994 by Dr Louis D’Amore, Founder, International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT). The title has since grown to include the Caribbean Region. Community Tourism has, in turn, given birth to Villages as Businesses, a world-recognized and acclaimed programme created in Jamaica and implemented and exported locally, regionally and internationally with a focus on community economic tourism.
A Great Decision
The Tourism Minister’s announcement is, in fact, an award-winning decision based on the following truth: it is endorsing the passion, philosophy and commitment of Diana McIntyre-Pike, tourism pioneer, which has earned her and Villages as Businesses some 25 awards spanning 40 years.
Among those accolades are the United Nations Decade of Women Award for outstanding contribution to tourism in Jamaica (1982), the Caribbean Hotel Association Award for outstanding contribution to tourism in the Caribbean Region (1988), the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award for Best Personal Contribution in the World, won jointly with Jane Ashton of TUI Travel UK from among 10,000 nominees (2008); the Order of Distinction (OD) for Tourism and Community Service (2009), the World Tourism Network (WTN) International Tourism Heroes Hall of Fame Award (2020), and the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association (JHTA) Community Tourism Pioneer Award (2021).
We welcome the Minister’s endorsement of Village Tourism because of its potential to be seamlessly integrated with Villages as Businesses and the many initiatives it has spawned, inspired and collaborated with within the emerging global multi-million-dollar tourism industry. It is important here to note the view of Dr Kadamawe K’nife, Lecturer/Researcher Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM), The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, who stated “the Tourism Master Plan (2000) is even more relevant today if Jamaica is to achieve the goals of vision 2030 and the SDGs. Village Tourism supports climate change imperatives and incorporates gender, youth, people with special needs and sustainable development best practices.”
The many Community Tourism partners and consultants, therefore, await and are willing to contribute to the blueprint, which will show how the Minister plans to integrate his community-focused tourism project with Villages as Businesses Tourism and make this venture a win-win for all.
A Golden Opportunity
Jamaica has the opportunity to show countries in the region how to develop a strategic, collaborative and coordinated approach to Village/Community Tourism to achieve the vision of a prosperous and equitable future. The Community Tourism industry partners and consultants seeking Government facilitation of this One-Voice approach include, but is not limited to:
- Theo & Sharon Chambers, founders of the annual Caribbean Health Tourism Spa Conference since 2005;
- Valerie Dixon with cultural heritage projects, the Marcus Garvey Fair and Taino Heritage in Resource Village;
- Beeston Spring Village led by Astil Gage.
- Arlene McKenzie with the Rastafarian Cultural Heritage (Rastafari Indigenous Village);
- Robert Stephens with the Port Royal project;
- Alison Kenning Massa with urban and environmental development profiles and plans for the North Coast, Bath/St. Thomas, Kingston & St. Andrew, Portland, St. Elizabeth and Manchester;
- Manchester Peace Coalition (MPCo) advocating and managing 18 at risk communities;
- UWI Open Campus providing certification for the Countrystyle Community Tourism Network Community Tourism Entrepreneurship training;
- Bluefields Community Best Road Competition led by Keith Wedderburn;
- Reliable Adventures Jamaica founded by Wolde Kristos;
- The National Best Communities Competition led by Jacqueline DaCosta;
- Negril Environment Education Trust (NEET – A tablet in every child’s hand and computer in every classroom) led by Winston Wellington and Jean Brown;
- Treasure Beach Community Tourism projects led by Jason Henzell;
- Edward Wray and indigenous and ceremonial tourism;
- Hugh Dixon and STEA opening Cockpit Country to specialist hiking, caving and cultural tourism;
- The Maroon and Taino communities acknowledging the importance of Jamaica’s authentic indigenous and connected cultural heritage within the Caribbean;
- The many Diaspora organisations, including Making Connections Work UK, who have enthusiastically endorsed Community Economic Tourism; and
- The people who have worked to ensure that we have a tourism industry through their advocacy and stewardship of the environment, including Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), the Negril, Montego Bay and Portland marine parks, Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT), Negril Environment Protection Trust (NEPT) and other environmental NGOs.
The Village Tourism Committment
We take the Minister’s presentation in Madrid as a commitment to strengthening rural communities’ capacity for self-governance and sustainable development fueled by tourism rather than creating mere attractions and museums. We also trust that his remarks about redressing the imbalance between the providers and beneficiaries of tourism will put to rest the frequent misconception that Community Tourism is but another means for a few outsiders to exploit Jamaica’s riches.
In fact, tourism is said to be the vehicle that redistributes global wealth to the poor. It is time to put that postulate to the test. At the same time, we hope there is also a commitment to cease developing tourism resort areas as tourism enclaves that ignore the need of the adjacent communities and tourism workers for proper housing, basic infrastructure and healthy, vibrant and attractive surroundings.
We are therefore requesting an urgent meeting with Tourism Minister Bartlett and his team to showcase and seek the Government’s acknowledgement of our inclusive Community Tourism past achievements, to present the need for support and appropriate remuneration for future endeavours, and to offer essential advice based on the successes achieved, best practices and lessons learned during the long practical experience.