My guest today is a woman who embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship in Jamaica – Diana McIntyre-Pike. OD, owner of Countrystyle Community Tourism Network in Mandeville. On October 1, she’ll be inducted in the Careers Hall of Fame at the Hamilton Knight & Associates Careers Expo at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Downtown Kingston. And on National Heroes Day, October 19, she’ll again be in the spotlight when the His Excellency The Most Honourble Patrick Allen, ON, CD, Governor General of Jamaica, will present her with the Order of Distinction Award in Tourism at King’s House. Thank you Diana for participating in THE BLOG ENTERPRISE’s Business Profile. Read and Be Inspired.
Name: Diana McIntyre-Pike. OD
Location: Countrystyle Community Tourism Network, The Astra Country Inn, 62 Ward Avenue, Mandeville. Manchester
Type of Business: Community Tourism – including hotel management, Community Tourism Training Institute and Community Experience Tour designers
What does your business do?
My business is focused on the development and marketing of community tourism focusing on the Countrystyle Village programme for Jamaica and the Caribbean. We operate The Astra Country Inn & Restaurant as our Home base where we have a Training Institute offering courses in community tourism which includes: basic hospitality skills, eco-tourism, cultural tourism, heritage tourism, sports tourism, nature tourism, agro-tourism, Christian tourism and many other special interest markets.
We also offer communities support in business development, marketing, training, and low interest and grant funding-facilitation. We offer local and international visitors diverse community experience packages which is tailor-made according to their interests and budget, and encourage them to participate in our ‘pick a project’ and ‘adopt a village’ programmes while on vacation. We also have a tours/information centre which networks with the Jamaica Tourist Board and tour operators throughout Jamaica.
Our Country Fresh Restaurant features local and natural health cuisine which caters to special diets and special requests. We network with other community restaurants in the Mandeville and the South Coast Area for visitors to have a diverse Jamaican cuisine experience. In addition to this, we offer Hospitality & Community Tourism Consultant services in Jamaica, the Caribbean, and to any country or community any where in the world interested in community tourism. We also represent the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) Caribbean Chapter and the IIPT Community Tourism Network, and the National Best Community Competition and Programme in the Central and Southern regions.
When and why did you start the biz?
I started this business in 1978, but the concept began while I was growing up in Westmoreland with my family, who operated a guest house business, as well as in Negril where they pioneered the first villa development and in 1973. I introduced the community tourism approach at Holiday Inn in Montego Bay with the introduction of the Jamaica Chit Chat Session as there was a need to introduce the Jamaican culture, heritage and lifestyle our guests and introducing them to community representatives in Montego Bay.
Why? I decided to establish a formal business in community tourism due to the fact that I have a strong passion for the development of tourism. Most of all, I wanted to protect the natural, cultural, and heritage environment of Jamaica. I also saw this as a way to market the diverse community experiences to local and international visitors who want to enjoy being Jamaicans in a communal environment. It also presented an opportunity to network with resort properties and cruise ship operators so as to encourage them to package our community experiences within their guest/client vacation packages.
How Many People are in your Company?
Four persons but I network with many community partners and consultants as required for projects, community experience tours etc
Where’s your office?
My office is situated at The Astra Country Inn in Mandeville, Manchester.
What’s the toughest part of running your biz?
Getting low interest funding and grant funding to enable me to operate all aspects of my business – this is the most challenging part of running my business with so much potential.
What’s the most fun part?
The most fun part of my business is developing special interest tailor-made itineraries for local and international visitors, and seeing how much they enjoy the community experience tours. The preparation of the communities to participate in the Countrystyle Village tourism programme is also fun. I also love to entertaining the visitors personally and sharing community entertainment with them.
Anything you would have done differently?
I should have established the Community Tourism Secretariat first within my business and then identified international low interest and grant funding instead of depending on local funding from banking institutions who charged excessive interest rates.
What’s next on the horizon for your biz?
Developing The Astra Country Inn as the Home of Countrystyle, inclusive of condos for sales and rental; recreational and wellness centre providing spa; community entertainment; restaurant and bar; conference facilities to accommodate 500 persons; shops for Art & Craft; swimming pool; and rooms featuring different villages. In addition to this, developing further the Countrystyle Community Tourism Village programme in Jamaica to include community theatres and recreational centres, and a regional office base in Dominica.
What advice do you have for others?
Be determined to succeed in realizing your vision to the greatest heights with God as your guiding partner – without Him you will not be able to cope with the many challenges that will confront you! Educate yourself continuously to ensure that you are always up to date with all aspects of business trends in Jamaica and the world which will empower you to prepare your business for the future. Be a good listener and identify role models who you can network with to give you resource information and support as required. Develop a partnership approach rather than a competitive approach mindset which encourages others to recommend your business and network with you.
Do you have an observation regarding what the next decade might hold regarding Jamaicans choosing to become entrepreneurs?
We need to advocate more for entrepreneurial businesses being established within communities – both urban and rural. However, special low interest and grant funding facilities need to be in place with a partnership approach – providing marketing, business development and training support to enable us to succeed in a sustainable way. We clearly need to develop more effective regulation of financial markets — and we always will, as there will always be a set of creative, if misguided, people whose business model is based on breaking the rules.
School (where, still in school, degree)?
Cambridgeshire College of Arts & Technology (National Diploma in Hotel Management and Catering operations) 1973; Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft Institute Germany (Diploma in Hotel Management and Tourism) 1977; City & Guilds London Institute Fellowship (Masters Degree in Tourism Management) 2006; and Western Hospitality Institute (BSc Hospitality Management) 2009.
Natural Health (fruits, vegetables, fish).
What are your pets’ names?
Dee, Lady Di and Hurricane D
Is there any one person or event in your life that led you to go into business for yourself?
My mother Ceceline McIntyre and my father Conway McIntyre – both inspired me in every respect to go into business for myself. As a child growing up, I observed each entrepreneurial leadership style and came to an early realization in life that one’s talents can always be morphed into a successful business.
Diana McIntyre-Pike, OD
Countrystyle International Limited
Countrystyle Community Tourism Network
The Astra Country Inn & Restaurant
62 Ward Avenue, Mandeville, Manchester
Skype address: diamite 1