Clarendon to get tourism boost
SALT RIVER, Clarendon:
The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) is investing approximately $14.6 million aimed at equipping the Caribbean Coastal Area Management (C-CAM) to establish guided Salt River Birding and Boat Tours of the wetlands and cays in the Salt River area.
The experiences are expected to promote the awareness and importance of the mangroves and coastal habitats as well as to foster environmental conservation. The Salt River Birding and Boat Tours will also offer visitors the joy of being out on the water while encouraging them to appreciate and care for the places they visit.
C-CAM has recognised the need to develop a viable social enterprise to generate employment and environmental sustainability within the lower Clarendon communities where it operates, including Salt Spring, Lionel Town in the Portland Bight area, Hayes, Salt River and Mitchell Town.
With the divestment and closure of most of the sugar plantations and a fall off in fishing activities due to depleted fishing stock as well as environmental changes, it is anticipated that this project will help to create a sustainable economic base for these communities.
Beverly Stewart, tourism specialist with JSIF said the Salt River Birding and Boat Tours are a part of the Rural Economic Development Initiative Tourism Project through which tour guides will be certified and licensed by the Tourism Product Development Company.
"This is an expansion of the Jamaican tourism product and we want visitors not only from overseas, but locally to come and enjoy the sites as well as the other community tourism enterprises around the island."
Scientific Officer with C-CAM Brandon Hay told Rural Xpress that the agency plans to create an interpretation centre for the wildlife in the Portland Bight Protected area and JSIF partnered to assist with the venture through the training of the community members who will be tour guides and boat operators.
The entire Portland Bight Protected area is approximately 720 square kilometres which is the largest protected area in Jamaica.
Mangroves provide a habitat for marine and other animals and species, including fish and birds as well as for juvenile species that later migrate after they have matured.
During a tour of a section of the Salt River, Hay told Rural Xpress that persons are pleased with the tours. "Although there haven't been many tours as yet, the feedback so far has been good. Persons are fascinated to learn some of the things we tell them and are amazed by what these systems can do for us if we protect what's left of them, but they can't do so unless they understand their value," he said.