MANDEVILLE: Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism has endorsed the Villages as Businesses (VAB) Program, which is focusing on developing local communities as sustainable business enterprises offering a range of products and services, enabling communities to earn income from these businesses.
The VAB program offers community experience tours where local and international visitors can experience the lifestyle of the villages, the people, the heritage, the culture and the cuisine that are examples of how communities build on human capital.
In a press release, VAB said it is working in partnership with the Countrystyle Community Tourism Network (CCTN), a community-based membership organization.
“In recognizing the need for communities to be properly trained, CCTN, in collaboration with the National Best Community Foundation (NBCF), is working together with the Villages as Businesses Program,” said the release. “It has received funding support from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) REDI project for six communities in six parishes in Jamaica to provide the training of community entrepreneurs in each village to prepare them for market ready tours that can be included in the Jamaica Tourist Board’s marketing campaign.”
The release also said tours can also offered to local and international tour operators and the local accommodation sector.
In addition to the Countrystyle “Community Experience”, CCTN/VAB has hosted community tourism study tours in South Africa, Alabama (USA), Dominica and St. Lucia. CCTN/VAB has also provided resource information and training to Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago and Cuba.
CCTN/VAB provides training in basic hospitality skills, small business management, product development, marketing, community governance and the TEAM Jamaica program from the Tourism Product Development Co. CCTN also facilitates funding support for community projects.
The CCTN/VAB and the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) Caribbean chapter has submitted 18 villages from Jamaica and the Caribbean, including Mandeville, as the only Peace Towns to participate in the IIPT/SKAL Peace Villages program, which will be officially announced at the end of August at UNWTO (United Nations World Trade Organization) General Assembly.