Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Japan helping Falmouth locals to benefit from heritage tourism

Published:Saturday | February 18, 2017 | 2:00 AMJason Cross
Yumeno Tsukamoto, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) volunteer, who is assisting TPDCo to develop Falmouth as a sustainable tourism destination.
‘Oasis of the Seas’ at Falmouth Pier. It is one the largest cruise ships in the world and has the capacity to carry more than 6,000 passengers.
Resident of Falmouth, Trelawny, Elie Barrett: “When the tourists come here, they usually don’t have anything to do but circle around and go back to the ship or take a bus to Montego Bay.”
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Making sure that the people of Falmouth, Trelawny benefit directly from tourism, the Japanese government, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has committed to empowering the locals by providing a volunteer from the Asian country to impart knowledge on how to develop Falmouth as a sustainable destination for international tourism.

Japanese volunteer, Yumeno Tsukamoto, who has experience as a tour guide from working with a sightseeing train company in Japan, explained the relevance of her mission here in Jamaica, which she said is to build tourism awareness and heritage protection among the people of Falmouth.

"Sometimes there are a lot of big cruise ships that stop here but big tourism companies take the tourists to other places. Local people in Falmouth cannot make money so I want to try to alleviate this negative impact and I want to spread the positive impacts of tourism," Tsukamoto told reporters recently during a two-day press tour, visiting a number of sites across Jamaica, sponsored by the Japanese Government.

USAIN BOLT TOUR

Alongside Tsukamoto, the Tourism Product Development Company hosts Jamaican music and dance shows, once a week, to attract tourists to the town, particularly in Water Square.

"We have soca and steel pan band, folklore and such kind," she said.

She also expressed her desire to help set up a Usain Bolt tour, which will take persons through the life of the sprinting legend by visiting his community, school and other spaces in the parish that contributed to his upbringing.

"I want local people to get good profits from the tourism industry. Not only income generation, but also for the tourists and local people to get a chance to know about Falmouth's history. Sometimes local people are very excited, more than creative tourists. Falmouth has a lot of historical Georgian buildings and Falmouth has great history, like the court house and the parish church," said Tsukamoto.

... Residents left out, says Trelawny native

Resident of Falmouth, Trelawny, Elie Barrett, stuck to his belief that the pier organisers deliberately share them out of the profits.

"Since the inception of the pier in 2010, I think the organisers have a low plan. They pick out certain streets and a little town. What they should do is build a place, like in Montego Bay, for sightseeing. When the tourists come here, they usually don't have anything to do but circle around and go back to the ship or take a bus to Montego Bay. That is why the locals are not benefiting from tourism here unless you get a job on the pier," said Barrett.

He was hanging out in Water Square when a press tour, sponsored by the Japanese Government, arrived. The Japanese Government, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, has committed to helping Falmouth locals benefit from heritage tourism.

"Most of the jobs they have is manpower job, for us to clean the area. What I notice with the tour guide from the pier is, whenever they come, we have good international acts like Lord Laro and Cindy Lewis, but they pass the entertainment and go where they want to go!" Barrett stressed.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com