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Community tourism the sustainable way forward

Over the past 37 years, a dynamic group of citizens and tourism players, mainly on the south coast and east coast of Jamaica, have advocated for a more sustainable and responsible approach towards tourism development and marketing.

We branded the approach Community Tourism and have promoted it worldwide through the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT), which has now branded Jamaica as the “Home of Community Tourism”

Some years ago, we received funding from CIDA for the Jamaica Community Tourism project. That very effective intervention involved public and private sector players, including HEART/NTA. HEART assisted in providing certification for Community Cooks, Community Guides and Community Tourism Trainers, which provided more economic opportunities for persons to be involved in tourism.

The project described Community Tourism as: “an integrated approach and collaborative tool which seeks to add value to the experience of local and foreign visitors and simultaneously empower and improve the quality of communities, through the assessment, development and marketing of natural and cultural community resources.”

Simply stated, Community Tourism is all-embracing and natural. It is responsible tourism, tourism that respects the environment, the culture and heritage and the people of Jamaica and its extraordinarily diverse communities. It highlights the importance and multiple social, economic and environmental benefits, in the present and for the future, of valuing, sustaining and showcasing environmental and cultural assets as destinations.

If embraced fully, Community Tourism will secure Jamaica’s tourism in an increasingly difficult competitive environment. But tourism will not be the only thing that will be secured. That is because it is a holistic approach to tourism that avoids both fragmentation and an “all or nothing” competition with other industries. By enhancing, rather than dominating or replacing what already exists, Community Tourism also secures and improves people’s livelihoods. It is thus a practical form of Community Development.

Community Development is therefore parallel to Community Tourism, because Community Tourism markets an area as a destination within the local and international marketplace and attracts a wide spectrum of visitors not only for vacation/leisure, but for other interests and purposes therefore products and services within the community are highlighted, which would not usually be highlighted in traditional tourism circles.

Community Development is therefore parallel to Community Tourism, because Community Tourism, markets an area as a destination within the local and international marketplace; attracting a wide spectrum of special interests, not only for vacation/leisure, but for other purposes therefore products and services within the community are highlighted, which would not usually be highlighted in traditional tourism circles.

If a community has established an international identity, it can stimulate other industries and magnify there export potential; (Examples including Entertainment, Craft, Agriculture, Manufacturing etc). People will come to know the destination within the destination. Therefore Community Tourism is the business of bringing communities to the world; marketing their image and potential.

The values of Community Tourism are clear and is based on tourism that promotes peace; based on the World Tourism Organizations Global Code of Ethics and the mission of the International Institute for Peace for Tourism (IIPT)

The Jamaican Experience has been a struggle; as the concept when pioneered many years ago in Mandeville and the south coast, challenged the unsustainable approach to tourism; but it has now finally ascended to national consciousness to a certain degree; as manifested in 10 million Jamaican dollar Community Tourism Project; funded by the Caribbean HRD Programme for Economic Competitiveness (CPEC – a CIDA funded project).

This article written by Diana McIntyre-Pike. The article is quoted from TravelMole and published July 2011.

This article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.
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Posted in Best practice, Cooperation and network, Development, Jamaica.

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