Take a bottom-up approach to community tourism – McIntyre Pike
Independent community tourism consultant Diana McIntyre Pike has said if the Ministry of Tourism’s proposed special community tourism unit is to be successful, a bottom-up approach must be taken, where community grass-roots organisations are a fundamental part of the planning process.
McIntyre Pike was speaking against the background of Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett’s World Tourism Day message, in which he noted that his ministry will be, among other things, establishing a special community tourism unit, within five years, to work with communities and hotels “to expand participation by community members”.
According to her, there needs to be “a coming-together” of the Government “with the people who are committed and are ready, and have initiatives on the ground”.
“We would like to see the Government really sit down with the NGOs and have a conference or maybe a Zoom meeting. The last count was over a thousand (NGOs) and a lot of them have good projects, and rather than reinvent wheels, what they (Government) should do is find out what is on the ground, what are the needs, and then they now move forward,” she said.
“Do not try and create something independent of that. You need to work with the people on the ground and find out what they are doing and see what support you can give them … but don’t have it where it is a top-down development. It is supposed to be bottom-up,” she stressed.
McIntyre Pike said there are already long-standing and accredited community tourism initiatives such as the Villages as Businesses programme, which falls under her Countrystyle Community Tourism Network, as well as others on the north coast which could be tapped into, albeit their approach being a little different.
“We have a different approach. Our approach is one of community development … we are not having people waiting around for tourists to come to their community. What we are saying is that it can enhance their economy, once they concentrate on their entrepreneurial ventures,” she explained.
“You need to network with community tourism on the ground for us to be able to move forward, and not have communities feel that they have to depend on tourism to move forward, because they have agriculture, art and craft, and all these things. The people have to learn about wellness, cleaning up their communities, from basic school up. To me, that is the priority,” McIntyre Pike, who pioneered community tourism in Jamaica, stated.
In his Word Tourism Day address, Bartlett had said there will be a focus on rural development and rural tourism, which will provide what he described as key opportunities for recovery as these communities seek to bounce back from the harsh economic setback caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the minister, the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies are committed to working with rural communities to strengthen their resilience, create jobs, and build economic opportunities.