Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism hosts South African group
A team of South African professionals in Community Tourism has arrived back in South Africa after a two week study tour in Jamaica. Whilst in Jamaica they had the privilege of meeting the entire Jamaican Tourism Ministry.
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, together with his Tourism Department team hosted the South African Community Tourism specialists at its Kingston headquarters.
The CCTNSA (Countrystyle Community Tourism Network) team was accompanied by the South African High Commissioner to the Caribbean, Her Excellency Mathu Joyini, as part of the Jamaica / South Africa information sharing and diplomatic relationship initiative.
Introducing the South African CCTNSA team, Her Excellency Mathu Joyini expressed her gratitude for an opportunity to share best practices in community development and how it aims to benefit both countries. Also amongst the team was Ms. Diana McIntyre Pike, founder and president of Countrystyle Community Tourism Network Caribbean.
Said CCTNSA’s Victor Sibeko “the purpose of our visit was to study the most talked about Community Tourism model which highlights the Jamaican lifestyle built on unique natural, culture and heritage resources”.
Said CCTNSA’s Mapula Tlhagale who is a senior Tourism Lecturer at the University of Pretoria “South Africa shares a lot in common in this regard and has seen changes in tourist requirements which look beyond just the hotel and city life. The tourist now wants to interact with the community and experience different cultures”.
Mapula Tlhagale facilitated questions on behalf of the CCTNSA team. Responding to questions posed to the Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill said, “the benefits of community tourism are tremendous and we have great opportunities in this area. These, and other forms of community tourism attractions and activities, present on-going opportunities for real transformation into major attractions.
Regarding community tourism, the Minister said “this area has major impact on the total visitor experience, taking into consideration that opportunities for community development are immense”.
The Minister indicated that the Ministry’s Draft Community-based Tourism Policy and Strategy is at the green paper stage, and will be circulated and discussed once finalised. He said the Community – based Tourism proposal relates to cultural and sports tourism.
Speaking at a special investment meeting a few days later the Minister said “aggressive use of obvious link between tourism, entertainment & sports, opens investment opportunities for entertainment complexes, recreational facilities and cultural venues unique to Jamaica.” He further noted that the country’s strength in music, dance, cuisine, literature and other art forms, as well as “the record-shattering sporting performances” must be explored.
CCTNSA’s Don Leffler said South Africa would like to progress ties between Jamaica and South Africa by encouraging sport and cultural exchange programmes. Don Leffler stated that CCTNSA would facilitate a “twin” initiative between the Rasta community in Knysna and the Rastafarian Indigenous Village in Mandeville, Jamaica. A similar “twin” initiative was being discussed between a sport club in Montego Bay, Jamaica and in Gauteng. Victor Sibeko added that “CCTNSA has identified potential exchange programmes in sports, Chefs / cuisine, music and many other areas of interest to both countries”.
Jamaica’s Minister McNeill said “government is determined to facilitate an enabling environment for investment, which includes further infrastructural development; ensuring environmental protection; diversification and deepening of the product offering and continued human resource development for service enhancement and improved security”.
“It was evident on all counts, that the determination to ensure that Jamaica’s tourism is competitive and cutting edge, with the required facilitation of continuous improvements and innovation, is absolute,” the Minister added in closure.
“We are excited about our achievement in Jamaica” says CCTNSA’s Victor Sibeko “and we look forward to sharing our experiences with South Africa to revitalise and develop responsible and sustainable community tourism initiatives to help create employment and grow local economies”.