Community Tourism Baseline Study and GIS Mapping Set to Propel Jamaica’s Tourism Sector Forward

In a concerted effort to advance community-based tourism development across Jamaica, the Tourism Product Development Company Ltd. (TPDCo), in collaboration with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), embarked on a series of workshops for a Community Tourism Baseline Study and Geographic Information System (GIS) Mapping Project. The workshops involved key Government of Jamaica (GOJ) and community tourism officials and were held from May 13 to May 16, 2024. 

The primary objective of these workshops was to sensitize GOJ and community stakeholders on the essential methodologies and goals of the consultancy, while soliciting valuable feedback crucial for its success. The overarching aim of the initiative is to collect vital data to inform decision-making and strategic planning within the tourism landscape, thereby fostering sustainable development and empowerment within local communities. 

Ms. Larisa McBean, Tourism Specialist at JSIF, highlighted the significance of the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI II) in bolstering economic opportunities in rural areas, particularly in community-based tourism and agriculture initiatives. She emphasized, “The goal of this project is to increase market access and climate resilience for targeted beneficiaries, laying a strong foundation for the sustainable growth of Jamaica’s tourism sector.” 

Mr. Osbourne Chin, Senior Director for Policy and Monitoring at the Ministry of Tourism, underscored the Ministry’s commitment to enhancing Jamaica’s tourism product while ensuring inclusivity and sustainability. He articulated, “This initiative aligns with our mission to create unique tourism experiences that transform Jamaica’s landscapes, talents, and vibrant culture into opportunities for all Jamaicans.”

Mr. Osbourne Chin, Senior Director for Policy and Monitoring at the Ministry of Tourism, (center) engages in discussion during the Community Tourism Baseline Study and GIS Mapping Project workshop, highlighting key concerns for sustainable tourism development.

The expertise of Target Euro Srl (Italy) and the UWI Mona Geoinformatics Institute have been employed to conduct an island-wide census of community tourism enterprises (CTE’s) and develop a detailed tourism asset inventory. Through GIS mapping, stakeholders will be able to visualize the complex relationships between tourism assets, local resources, and environmental features.  

Mr. Luke Buchanan, Executive Director of the UWI Mona Geoinformatics Institute, shed light on the pivotal role of GIS in mapping the intricate tourism ecosystem across Jamaica. He elucidated, “GIS plays a pivotal role in facilitating informed decision-making, optimizing resource allocation, and promoting sustainability within the tourism sector. Our aim is to leverage spatial data to visualize complex relationships and empower stakeholders with actionable insights.” 

The workshops also featured insights from Mr. Gilberto Zangeria of Target Euro, who emphasized the importance of collecting robust data to support evidence-based policymaking and strategic planning. He reiterated, “Good policies need good data, and through initiatives like the Community Tourism Baseline Study, we aim to provide policymakers with comprehensive insights to drive Jamaica’s tourism strategy forward.” 

The Community Tourism Baseline Study and GIS Mapping Project represent a crucial step towards fostering inclusive and sustainable tourism development in Jamaica. By leveraging data-driven insights and fostering collaboration among key stakeholders, the initiative endeavours to create a resilient tourism sector that benefits communities across the island. 

One of the community tourism stakeholders providing feedback and recommendations on the Community Tourism Baseline Study and GIS Mapping project.