September 29, 2016
By: Denise Dennis
The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) has launched a National Community Tourism Portal, which is a web-based platform to promote licensed community-based tourism enterprises across the island.
The portal, launched at the Devonshire at Devon House in St. Andrew, today (September 28), is part of the Government’s US$15-million Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) project, being implemented by JSIF through funding from the World Bank.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Jennifer Griffith, in officially launching the portal, said it will provide the community tourism subsector with an online presence and online marketing strategies to create growth.
“Today’s tourism and travel market is highly competitive. This portal is an excellent tool which will help local community-based tourism enterprises keep pace with the competition,” she said.
Mrs. Griffiths argued that this will be achieved by the portal’s capability to build awareness of the sector in Jamaica, provide comprehensive and engaging information on the product in the country as well as provide a convenient means for bookings. It also provides entrepreneurs with affordable and cost-effective e-marketing services.
“I commend JSIF and the World Bank for the tremendous support being given to the development of tourism at the community level,” she said.
Meanwhile, Managing Director of JSIF, Omar Sweeney, said the launch of the portal follows a range of initiatives by the REDI programme to develop the community-based tourism product in the island.
This includes direct grant assistance for product development, capacity building and infrastructure upgrades for 11 enterprises.
A Community Tourism Policy and Strategy was also developed under the programme, as well as the Jamaica Community Enterprises trademark, registered under the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).
Current and planned investments by REDI exceed $250 million in more than 20 community enterprises across the island.
Mr. Sweeney said entrepreneurs have also been assisted with rudimentary training in business plan development, financial management, entrepreneurship and customer service.
For her part, World Bank Country Manager, Galina Sotirova, in hailing the launch of the portal, said the marketing and branding capacity of the platform is critical, and will serve to enhance the power and presence of brand Jamaica.
“Adding global connectivity through this national portal is brilliant. Thanks to this step, many more creative and hard-working Jamaicans will be able to realise their true potential as they make ready to connect and compete globally,” she said.