Annette Tingle

Visiting Bluefields Bay and Rastafari Indigenous Village in Jamaica

Suzannah Newham at Rastafari Indigenous Village

Suzannah Newham at Rastafari Indigenous Village

Suzannah Newham (Destinations Programme Officer) recently visited Jamaica to work with Annette Tingle (Jamaica Programmes Coordinator) to conduct scoping research and to visit existing project partners.

The trip took Suzannah and Annette away from the main resorts of Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios to the beautiful south coast. Here, the Travel Foundation are supporting The Caribsave Partnership in scoping the potential for new excursions which could support local fishing communities in diversifying their income while ensuring effective environmental stewardship of the Bluefields Bay and Gallon fish sanctuaries.

Scoping included extended time with the fishermen and wardens, as well as meetings with key tour operators, a tour of the historical sites of Bluefields Bay, a visit to a cave network with Cockpit Country Adventure Tours, a trip to Treasure Beach and stops at both Appleton Rum Estate and YS Falls – all “must sees” for trips to Jamaica.

The results of this research visit are currently being considered by Caribsave – keep an eye on the Travel Foundation website for updates and news about the new excursions.

Back in Montego Bay, Suzannah and Annette also visited the Rastafari Indigenous Village (RIV) community to work on a recently launched project which aims to develop mainstream market links for RIV’s unique micro-excursion. Following visits from TUI UK & Ireland staff, recommendations for small improvements have been made, and all RIV community members have been offered the opportunity to experience an excursion already sold to Thomson and First Choice customers. Jill Carter (Head of Retail at TUI UK & Ireland) will be visiting the community later in July to deliver a training workshop, alongside Annette, on customer expectations.

The aim is to trial RIV excursions with TUI UK & Ireland customers by September this year.

We would like to thank Rhino Car Hire and their partners in Jamaica, Island Car Rentals, for their support with car hire for this trip – not only was the car invaluable in terms of covering the 750km+ of road for the scoping exercise, it also proved a great way to see the country and find hidden gems off the beaten track.

Handover ceremony at Rastafari Indigenous Village, Jamaica

The Rastafari Indigenous Village in Montego Bay, Jamaica has been officially “handed over” at a ceremony to mark the end of a year-long upgrade project.

Master Straw Weaver Richard Miller

Master Straw Weaver Richard Miller. Photo: Rastafari Indigenous Village Facebook page

Established in 2007, the village is located in Irwin on the outskirts of Montego Bay.

The mission of its founders was to build a tangible, sustainable agro-artisan community to showcase the history, traditional practices and lifestyle of the Rastafari movement, which started in Jamaica in the 1930s.

The idea has always been to use tourism as a mechanism for long-term funding and as a way to preserve, celebrate and communicate Rastafari traditions for the benefit of national and international visitors.

In 2012, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund – Rural Economic Development Initiative (JSIF REDI) provided J$18M funding to upgrade the infrastructure of the village in order to meet international tourist attraction standards. The project came to a close in December 2013.

At the same time, the Travel Foundation provided villagers with in-kind training and development sessions on vision and mission, and group cohesion.

Annette Tingle at the handover ceremony

Annette Tingle at the handover ceremony

Annette Tingle, the Travel Foundation’s Jamaica Programmes Coordinator, was invited to attend the JSIF REDI handover ceremony on 4 April in Montego Bay.

She congratulated the village and expressed the Travel Foundation’s continued commitment, saying she “was very pleased that the Travel Foundation was recognised by the Rastafari Indigenous Village and JSIF as a valued partner that was willing to gift the village with time and expertise to support its development”.

The Travel Foundation will now work with the villagers to develop mainstream market links for their unique micro-excursion. Look out for more information here and on our project pages over the coming months.