Tourism conference to boost three unique attractions
Three attractions indigenous to Jamaica's tourism product are to receive greater exposure from visitors who will gather in Montego Bay, St James, for the first-ever World Tourism Conference next week.
The three-day 'Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth' will facilitate technical visits to the three community-tourism experiences, namely - the Rasta Indigenous Village, Cockpit Country Adventure Tours, and the Bunkers Hill Cultural Xperience and River Tour.
These attractions, according to tourism minister Edmund Bartlett, were selected to showcase the biological diversity of Jamaica's natural environment, rich history, and culture.
Bartlett and some of the ministry's conference team were guests at a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week, ahead of the symposium, which will be held from November 27-29 under the theme 'Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism' at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
The conference is being held within the framework of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, the first time the World Bank Group will partner with the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), as well as its affiliate members to stage a global event on tourism in the Caribbean or the Americas.
An estimated 800 to 1,000 visitors are expected in the island for the event.
UNIQUE AND VALUABLE
Bartlett said that the three attractions were "selected based on the unique qualities they have towards sustainable tourism development".
Dr Lloyd Waller, senior advisor to the Ministry of Tourism and head of strategic operations for the conference, said that the three sites were unique and were thought to be valuable to the theme.
"We essentially had a slate of communities and community projects submitted to the UNWTO for review, and they were the ones who selected those that they thought would have been of interest to them," said Waller.
Delegates from more than 157 countries will be attending the conference to hear more about the value of the Rasta Indigenous Village. Located just outside Montego Bay, St James, "it is a living cultural center that offers an opportunity to experience the Rastafari way of life".
Visitors learn about the ways of Rastafari, participate in organic farming, and learn to make traditional crafts and receive lessons in music.
The Bunkers Hill Cultural Xperience, located on the Bunkers Hill property in Trelawny, will take visitors to lands once home to Tainos - indigenous Arawak people of the Caribbean and Florida; and the Maroons, escaped African slaves.
Dr Andrew Spencer, executive director of The Tourism Product Development Company, told the forum that the entity has targeted 21 community projects to be brought up to the high standard of the Jamaican tourism product.
"Seven have been brought to a state of readiness," he disclosed.
Jamaica has, according to Bartlett, fully endorsed the United Nation's General Assembly, which, in 2016, approved the adoption of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
The country is expected to top four million visitors this year. The tourism minister said that the conference would also be a catalyst for development of the global and Caribbean tourism industry.