The Countrystyle Community Tourism Network was born in Jamaica to introduce our visitors, and the world, to the unique intrigue, charm, character and personality of our island and her people, and to show that there is an alternative to the four main products of a worldwide tourist industry, including Jamaica's, namely sun, sea, sand, and sex.
It is this unique intrigue, charm, character and personality that attracts so many visitors to our little island of Jamaica in preference to the many other destinations, many of which offer more manicured and sanitized environments?
Visitors, who then fall in love with Jamaica, and keep coming back.
It is this intrigue, charm, character, and personality that Mrs Ceciline McIntyre offered to her guests in Negril and Savanan-la-mar in the 1960's when Negril was an unspoilt fishing village with 7 miles of deserted natural beach.
She introduced her community's lifestyle to her guests, and treated them like family. She offered them many of the benefits of major tourist destinations, while making them feel completely at home, and a part of the local community.
This is what helped to make Negril so popular in the 1960's with a huge market of nature lovers and hippies.
Ceceline McIntyre pioneered this community concept, and she is undoubtedly the "Mother of Community Tourism".
Her daughter Diana grew up in this environment, where Community Tourism was in her blood. And it is this community approach that Diana saw as one of the ways to brand Jamaica as a unique tourism destination.
In the late 60's when she started working for the Holiday Inn in Montego Bay she felt that she was in a foreign country within the hotel. She started a "Chit Chat Session" to introduce Jamaica's and Monetgo Bay's local culture, attractions, and foods to the guests.
This was so popular and successful, that the manager eventually asked her who she was working for? The Holiday Inn or the local resaurants and attractions?
But community tourism was in her blood, and when the late Abe Isaa offered her the opportunity to continue her work at the Runaway Bay Golf and Country Club she jumped at the chance.
Then the Jamaica Tourist Board offered her a scholarship to study in Germany. And on
her return in 1977 she joined her family at the Astra Counrty Inn in
Mandeville, so that she could further develop her concept of Community
It was here that she got together with the former Director of Tourism in Jamaica ... the late Desmond Henry. They realized that tourists increasingly want to explore the places they visit, and interact with local people in their local home environment. And that many visitors enjoy working on a farm, learning how to plant local crops and learning the nutritional and medicinal value of the different crops.
They saw that this offered an opportunity for the farmer to provide accommodation on his farm, and become a community agro-tourism guide.
So together they coined the term "Countrystyle Community Tourism" and started marketing it through the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT).
They set up CCTN, the Countrystyle Community Tourism Network, offering tailor-made community vacations, community experience tours, and Countrystyle Community Tourism Consultancy and Training.
Facilities needed to attract, entertain and accomodate tourists are of immense value to the local communities. But farmers and communities need to be trained in basic hospitality skills, environmental awareness and business management skills. And it is vital to involve the local communities in the planning and development process.
It is also vital that what is unique to Jamaica is not destroyed by unscrupulous and greedy persons/businesses who see this as an opportunity for their own gain, with no care for the environment or the communities that they intend to plunder, and without giving the communities credit or fair rewards.
Community Tourism also needs to be protected from the persons who plagiarize community projects and submit them for funding in pursuit of academic accolades.
Jamaica must protect and maintain its own unique Jamaican identity, both for locals and visitors.
It is for this reason that the "Villages as Businesses" initiative has been launched by the Countrystyle Community Tourism Network and it's many supporters and partners, with the aim of sustaining communities through training and development.
CCTN offers study tours for those wishing to visit Jamaica and study our model of community tourism.
A typical study tour will include
When you participate in one of the study tours, you also ...
Sandals, a major player in Jamaica's tradtional tourism market has invested, through the Sandals Foundation, in the training of communities near their resorts, and has assisted in upgrading the infrastructure in these communities.
This is an exemplary example for everybody involved in Jamaica's tourist industry to follow.
Community tourism initiatives as practised by CCTN can be of benefit to countries and peoples from all over the world, working hand in hand with traditional tourism.
To help achieve these goals the Countrystyle Community Tourism Network offers consultancy and training in community tourism, and the setting up of a Villages as Businesses program.
St Lucia and Dominica have partnered with CCTN and Cocvat (Caribbean Experience Tours) has been born
A community group from Macon County and the Black Belt in Alabama in the USA have visited Jamaica on a study tour.
The South Africa chapter of CCTN has been established - CCTN-SA - and has been on a study tour.
My thanks to Valerie Dixon for much of this information about Countrystyle Community Tourism, and how it has evolved over the years.
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