KINGSTON, Jamaica – As the Ministry of Tourism continues to celebrate Tourism Awareness Week, officials from the Ministry, its agencies as well as tourism partners today (September 28, 2016) participated in the official launch of the National Community Tourism Portal, at Kingston’s iconic attraction, Devon House.
“It is fitting that the portal is being launched during Tourism Awareness Week, which this year is being observed under the theme ‘Tourism for all: Promoting Universal Accessibility’, as it underscores our commitment to broaden Tourism’s reach to positively impact the lives of as many Jamaicans as possible,” said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Mrs. Jennifer Griffith.
She emphasized that “through community-based tourism the sector will be accessible to more Jamaicans and deliver greater economic benefits to a larger percentage of the population, particularly at the grass-root level.”
The portal forms part of the government’s US$15 million Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) project, which is being implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), with funding from the World Bank.
“On the community tourism side, J$250 million has been invested. This is a part of the direct strategy to have both the Ministry of Tourism and JSIF really look at this business of community tourism head-to-head. What that means is direct assistance for: product development; capacity building infrastructure; and the upgrading of 11 community tourism enterprises,” said JSIF’s Managing Director, Mr. Omar Sweeney.
The National Community Tourism Portal will act as a hub which supports community based tourism in all its forms. A booking engine has also been integrated to not only give vendors additional exposure but to also provide a means for the target market to conveniently procure the services of the tourism entities from the site.
“This portal is an excellent marketing tool which will help local community-based tourism enterprises keep pace with the competition by: building awareness of community tourism in Jamaica; providing comprehensive and engaging information on Jamaica’s community tourism product; providing an easy means for making community tourism bookings; and providing Community Based Tourism Enterprises (CBTEs) with affordable and cost effective e-marketing services,” stated Mrs. Griffith.
JSIF is currently engaged in a three year programme with the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) to establish the portal and conduct market-ready development and marketing for CBTEs — with the assistance of the Jamaica Tourist Board who will market the Community Tourism Brand. As of June 30, 2017 TPDCo will be charged with the responsibility to fully oversee the operations and maintenance of the portal.
“The introduction of this portal is a move in the right direction. It will provide: quick turn-around time for payment to the operators; a clear and comprehensive policy on cancelations thereby protecting the vendor; multi-language support for all major tourism markets; and marketing support to increase business and drive traffic to the portal,” added TPDCo’s Acting Executive Director, Mrs. Joy Roberts.