Can Locals Reap The Benefits Of Tourism In Jamaica?
Jamaica is awash with too many unrecognised, economically neglected, yet historically rich and significant sites. Jamaican nationals and tourists alike, from all over the world, are well-aware of the inviting Dunn’s River Falls, the relaxing Black River Safari, enchanting, idyllic Negril Beaches and the sophisticated irresistible Green Grotto Caves.
Multiple other exotic and notable sites exist in Jamaica which are not adequately recognised, and currently are not being harnessed to their significant economic potential. Thus their magnificent historical and attendant economic values go a begging.
By organising tours to include schools, community theatre companies and cast, and other civic leaders most Jamaicans will inure direct benefit from increasing tourist arrivals and spending in Jamaica.
Each selected school and partnering community can develop a thirty minute skit delivering messages emphasizing the unique historical perspective of their local area. A respected and knowledgeable local community leader may present a ten minute update outlining community initiatives and progress. Craft displays with items for sale must be included. Where possible a demonstration of some simple techniques used in product preparation may be included. Food tasting including recipes, where sanctioned by the health department, would add flavour and exciting, rich possibilities.
Each tour would run for about 2 hours, five or six days a week, and be available when cruise ships are scheduled. Tours would be officially sanctioned and scheduled in collaboration with both overseas and local tour companies. Imagine the schools in Port Maria, the capital of St. Mary, collaborating to engage students in yearlong cultural presentations galvanising the interests of tourists and locals alike.
If each guest pays US $15 dollars per tour and each showing attracts 60 clients, the revenue generated for a production lasting 6 months with performances 4 days per week would be over US $21000. This sum could go a long way in paying for cast support and contribute to urgently needed school supplies. If successful, replicating this model across Jamaica will decidedly change the social landscape. Schools and families will be far more self-sufficient.
Socially conscious, supposedly forward thinking, tertiary institutions like Northern Caribbean University, University of the West Indies and the University of Technology and hopefully others, must adapt by developing and offering innovative courses in community development to capture and foster these development possibilities.
Junkanoo and quadrille dancing, demonstrating Jamaican kite making, and ancient and historical drum playing are just a sampling of possible potential activities.
Worried politicians, one may speculate, could likely also find this more fully educated and engaged, and now more economically self-sufficient, independent populace more distant and far less easily manipulated. More nuanced, and wisely demonstrating their franchise at the polls, none performing or immature representatives my find they are traumatically and summarily terminated!
Quality, qualified, principled community representatives, who have not imbibed of and become intoxicated by the tainted orange and green Jamaican political wine which, if history is a guide appears to have nullified formal education leading to acquiring of degrees, basic common sense, and rational thinking, are needed to achieve this new paradigm. Jamaica this is possible?
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