Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Urges Greater Involvement in Community Tourism Projects

Jamaica's Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, is urging greater community involvement in community based tourism projects, which is key to ensuring the success of this form of tourism across the island. Describing community projects as an integral part of Jamaica’s overall tourism product, Minister McNeill, said, “we often talk about community tourism but it will not develop by itself. Over the last year we have been going into communities and talking to persons and the awareness is growing. We are encouraging people in communities island-wide to join in this process and conceptualize and develop community tourism projects of their own.” Lauding the vision of representatives from the various communities, which have already developed projects, Minister McNeill said community tourism projects enable residents to see the importance of tourism to their respective communities and how they can benefit from it in a real way. “If people in Jamaica don’t feel that they are benefiting from tourism it will not be sustainable. We are here to give validation to your hard work as your efforts are commendable,” Minister McNeill said. These comments came as Minister McNeill, State Minister in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, the Hon. Richard Azan; Member of Parliament for North Eastern St Elizabeth, Raymond Pryce; officials from both ministries, and representatives of state agencies toured sections of St. Elizabeth and Westmoreland, recently. The tour was aimed at providing a first-hand view of community based tourism projects which are being spearheaded by various community groups. The projects include the improvement of the Goshen Sports Complex in St. Elizabeth which is to be equipped for use as a community training centre and will facilitate training in tourism and hospitality. Improvements will also be made to a travel halt in Braes River in the parish for use by tourists and Jamaicans alike, who visit attractions in the area, such as the Appleton Rum Tour. Plans are also afoot to develop a museum at a historic burial ground located in Carmel, which was the site of the first Moravian Missionary Settlement in the island. Over in Westmoreland, work is already underway on the Bethel Town Green Area, which is being upgraded to provide green space for persons to jog and interact. A pathway is being constructed while landscaping work is slated to be completed in a matter of weeks. Plans are also being finalized to upgrade the botanical gardens in Darliston. Also accompanying Minister McNeill, who also toured other sections of the South Coast in January, were Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, and MP for Eastern Westmoreland the Hon., Luther Buchanan; representatives from the respective Parish Councils; and officials from the South Coast Resort Board, Social Development Commission, National Works Agency, the TEF and TPDCo. (HM Voluntourism) - KINGSTON, JAMAICA – February 21, 2014: Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill (2nd right); Member of Parliament for North East St Elizabeth, Raymond Pryce (right); and Councillor for the Braes River Division, Donovan Pagon, listen attentively as Lyse Perron (left), discusses plans for the renovation of the Braes River travel halt in St. Elizabeth. Ms. Perron is the leader of a group of 25 teachers and students from Northern Ontario, Canada, who have undertaken the project as a special ‘voluntourism’ initiative. Minister McNeill, government officials and representatives of various state agencies were on a tour of sections of St. Elizabeth and Westmoreland, yesterday (February 19) to get a first-hand view of the community based tourism projects now under consideration. The tour included the Goshen Sports Complex, Braes River, News River and Darliston.