Community Tourism: The Road Less Travelled

_MG_9782Jamaica is known for its beautiful terrain and miles of white sandy beaches, sunny weather all year round and resorts that offer a variety of activities for visitors. Although these are notable features of our country that have helped to propel Jamaica’s tourism sector and position Jamaica as the ideal destination; the new generation of visitors is searching for a new type of vacation, one that is meaningful and can be achieved by submerging themselves into our rich culture. This quest for enlightenment and new meaning can be experienced through visiting Community Tourism Enterprises.  Our nation undoubtedly has been benefitting from this fascinating and somewhat newly discovered side of tourism in Jamaica, as this aspect of tourism in Jamaica allows for a more eclectic experience.

The National Community Tourism Policy and Strategy describes Community Tourism as “an umbrella term that covers a wide spectrum of tourism niches and types. The portfolio of community tourism products in Jamaica can include nature tourism, birding, adventure, cultural experiences, voluntourism, family experiences and thematic tourism products.”

What makes the visit or stay at these entities memorable is that they incorporate key elements of destination appeal such as religion, climate, music and cuisine, and takes you away from the hustle and bustle and offers a gratifying and authentic Jamaican cultural experience. One will be able to indulge in the rich flavor of the Caribbean, get close to the lush vegetation and rest their head in a space that feels like home. For the more adventurous, they can hike in a space carved by God, watch as Mother Nature opens her arms and invites viewers to see the much talked about sprawling hillsides of Jamaica while breathing in fresh clean air.

The overarching benefit of community tourism enterprises however, is the interaction; it takes the visitors to a level where they become close to the product. A visit to Trench Town will introduce locals and visitors to the birthplace of Bob Marley’s musical career, which offers a different experience from watching a documentary. They will experience the sights and sounds, which guarantees a fulfilling and rewarding experience.

An entity in Trelawny known as Bunkers Hill serves their meals on banana leaves, enamel ,used in the 19th and 20th century, or calabash shells which was a practice by the Maroons. A visitor would’ve gained a history lesson through a meal, which explains these entities’ versatility in highlighting Jamaica’s culture and history.  Visitors and residents will also receive a fresh perspective as they get up close and personal with Jamaica’s heritage and culture, and learn the stories behind certain practices.

In addition, with the local community member’s involvement, the experience becomes even greater as they feel the spirit and vibe of the people, and Jamaica is known to have some of the most creative and passionate individuals, especially their survival creativity.  Community Tourism Enterprises without a doubt present the most interesting parts of our island and can offer a life changing experience for those who wish for a closer viewpoint of  rich, diverse and unique Jamaica.