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S Africans sample community tourism in Manchester

Published:Saturday | March 17, 2012 | 12:00 AM
From left: Mapula Tlhagale; Mathu Joyini, South African High Commissioner to the Caribbean; her son Kapello with Louw Allan and Don Leffler.
Guest speaker Lou D'Amore, president and founder of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism.
A visitor having the community tourism
Mathu Joyini, South African High Commissioner to the Caribbean (third left), converses with patrons at the Marcus Garvey Fair in Resource, Manchester.- Contributed photos

Valerie Dixon, Contributor

RESOURCE, Manchester:REGGIE COCKETT died two years ago at the ripe age of 100 and he was very knowledgeable about the sojourn of Marcus Garvey in Resource. I am glad I had the pleasure of his company for many years as he was the oracle who knew where the footsteps of Marcus Garvey could be found. It would have pleased and warmed the cockles of Maas Reggie's heart to see Africans in flesh and blood walking up and down the street that Marcus Garvey used to visit a very dear friend after 12-year-old Reggie delivered his messages in note form.

A delegation from the Countrystyle Community Tourism Network South Africa compromising academics, a prince, and tourism experts, accompanied by South African High Commissioner Mathu Joyini and son, were the special visitors at the seventh staging of the Marcus Garvey Fair held on February 19.

Lou D'Amore, president and founder of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT), was guest speaker. Thousands of patrons made their way to the tiny community of Resource in south Manchester.

What could have caused these Africans to journey halfway across the world to Jamaica and to visit a community in deep rural Manchester? They came to experience and study our model of country-style community tourism, with the IIPT supporting and branding Jamaica as "The Home of Community Tourism".

Thanks to the unrelenting work and efforts of local community tourism pioneer, Diana McIntyre-Pike, who was contacted by the South Africans while she was representing Jamaica as one of 50 experts in sustainable tourism internationally involved in a discussion on the way forward for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Sites communities.

As the event planner/organiser of the Marcus Garvey Fair, I will be forever grateful and thankful that the South African delegation insisted on wanting to experience the community of Resource and to participate in and be entertained at the Marcus Garvey Fair - an event that highlights the legacy of National Hero Marcus Garvey as well as the rich and bountiful history left behind in Resource by the Tainos, formerly referred to as the Arawaks.

authentic experience

Community tourism offers visitors the opportunity to have an authentic "experience" through direct involvement in a community. This can take various forms, from staying at a local bed-and-breakfast or guest house to, in the case of Resource, learning their cultural dance called Runkus. This dance is an African retention from the Ashanti people and is still performed at their wakes and tomb-building gatherings. Visitors also participated in the making of bammies, which are still prepared in the manner left behind by the Tainos.

Don Leffler, a member of the Countrystyle South African delegation and a director at the Tourism Centre of Excellence, situated in Durban, made the point that community tourism is concerned with the impact of tourism on a particular locale and its environmental resources and that it is about local communities and their lifestyles. One of the definitions of community tourism is "tourism developed by the people and run by the people". This simple definition illustrates the importance of a community being involved in planning, developing, maintaining, managing, and sharing the benefits of a tourism destination and its products. When properly developed, community tourism is a collection of businesses that sell a variety of goods and services to visitors and allows direct tourist dollars to flow and stay in local communities.

We are very thankful for those companies which give in kind every year and to the many exhibitors who make the journey year after year, thereby making the Marcus Garvey Fair a successful event.