By donleffler, 28 July, 2012

August will be a memorable month for Jamaica !!!!



The Island celebrates its 50th Anniversary of Independance and one of the greatest athletes of all time, Ussain Bolt, will be competing atthe London Olympics for the Jamaican people. It is said that President Jacob Zuma will visit Jamaica to join in its Independence Anniversary celebrations.


Jamaica and South Africa have a long history of close relationships. They share a special bond and share similar social and economic challenges. We experienced this first hand when we visited Jamaica in February to share learnings on Community Development and Local Economic Development driven by Community Based Tourism.


During our visit to Jamaica we were privileged and humbled to be received by the South African High Commissioner to the Caribbean, Her Excellency, Mathu Joyini. The SA High Commission Team in Jamaica works tirelessly for the benefit of South Africa. Huge credit must go to Mathu Joyini and her Team who represent South Africa's interests and international relations with the spirit of Ubuntu.



During February 2012, a group of 8 South African Tourism specialists, entrepreneurs and academics traveled to Jamaica to share learnings on Community Based Tourism as a 'driver' of community development and local economic development. Our Study Tour was hosted by Diana McIntyre-Pike, President of CCTN, and the initiator of the Villages as Businesses Model. Diana's work has received international attention and during our research into Community Based Tourism as practiced internationally we were most drawn to the Jamaican Model.


Prior to our visit to Jamaica we initiated meetings with the Jamaican High Commissioner in South Africa and with her counterpart, the South African High Commissioner to the Caribbean , Her Excellency Mathu Joyini. We were privileged to be received by both the Jamaican and South African High Commissioners and, through Diana, were able to meet with many influential Government and academic representatives in Jamaica . All of this created a platform for a hugely successful Study Tour to Jamaica where we learned a great deal about effective Community Based Tourism Models. The Villages as Businesses Model was considered the most effective and we have adapted this Model to a South African context.


Our Study Tour to Jamaica created opportunities to explore Tourism, Sport Development, Enterprise Development and other initiatives to drive local economic development. As a result of the Tour we have twinned Rasta Villages in Jamaica and South Africa; co-signed the 2012 Olympic Peace Treaty; recommended the invitation to South Africa of Sports representatives from Jamaica as hosted buyers of the International Sports & Events Exchange to be held in September, facilitated relationships during the recent Tour by South Africa's national Netball Team to Jamaica, encouraged Sport & Academic exchange programmes between Sport federations and Universities in Jamaica and South Africa and, also, made presentations to South African Government, Business and Community representatives on the 'Villages as Businesses' Model.


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The Countrystyle Community Tourism Network South Africa – a group of tourism specialists committed to the development and revitalization of community and rural tourism initiatives - is implementing a new community tourism model in South Africa .


The Countrystyle Community Tourism Network (CCTNSA) team recently returned from Jamaica , where the umbrella organization CCTN is based.


The Jamaican non-profit organization is internationally recognized for having developed a successful community tourism business model known as ‘Villages as Businesses’.


CCTNSA is launching a pilot project in an impoverished area in South Africa to introduce the model to South Africa .


‘What CCTN has done effectively’ says Don Leffler, head of the Tourism, Hospitality & Sport Business School (THSBS), is to get cruise ship passengers off the exotic beaches of Montego Bay and into the rural villages. They managed to do so by developing destinations within these impoverished communities as well as products that community members sell, and even export internationally.’


One community has created a coffee plantation where visitors can see how coffee is grown and made. This coffee is exported internationally.


Leffler explains why the project has been so successful. ‘Their concept of community wealth is not just financial. There is a big focus on personal self esteem – something we don’t seem to have gotten right in South Africa . In these rural communities, people have started feeling proud that they are achieving something and able to support their families. That feeling has spread into the community.’


And through training and development initiatives that support the business model, community members have gained skills and knowledge that also translate into community wealth.


The CCTNSA team traveled to Jamaica to learn about the CCTN and Villages as Businesses Model on Community Development driven by Community Based Tourism. The Community development value chain was of particular interest, namely ‘how to get the whole community to support, participate in and benefit from an initiative, come up with products to sell, and where possible, to market and possibly even export those products’ says CCTNSA’s Don Leffler.


What makes the Jamaican business model unique, according to Leffler, is that it has managed to satisfy both community and investor needs, whether the investor is government or the private sector. Everyone benefits.

‘It’s about creating new jobs and local economic sustainability and independence - giving people in rural areas a reason to stay in those areas.’


Training and development in South Africa will be facilitated by the Tourism Centre of Excellence which comprises THSBS and associations with other private sector providers, universities of Pretoria , local Government and businesses.


One of our objectives, says Leffler is “to form partnerships with Caribbean academic and sport development institutions to share learning programmes and offer sport and cultural exchange programmes.”


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