When tourists connect with the heart and soul of a destination

R Hotel Kingston pledges support for community tourism

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Alexander Pike, General Manager, The R Hotel Kingston, has pledged support for community tourism in his presentation as guest speaker at the International Community Tourism Conference Welcome Reception Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at the Spanish Court Hotel, Kingston. Spanish Court was one of the Conference Sponsors.

Mr. Theo Chambers, Master of Ceremonies, CEO PanaCarib Business Solutions, guided the networking session with humor and also called on select guests to bring informal greetings. Jennifer Griffith (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism), Mr. Mike Henry (Member of Parliament in the Office of the Prime Minister), Dr. Louis D’Amore (Founder/President IIPT), Dr. Carolyn Hayle (UWI Tourism Researcher), Gillian Rowlands (VP IIPT Caribbean), Alison Kenning Massa (VP Countrystyle Villages as Businesses) to mention a few.

He called on the Kingston hospitality industry to show people what we do as Kingstonians. People who ask what is community tourism is confused. In fact, he showed that coming to the Welcome event, going to the movies is regarded as community tourism. During intermission, people meet and greet each other and guests love it. They enjoy their experiences. Brand Jamaica Shopping experience such as Bridget Sandals should be promoted more. He highlighted the Negril Beach as a community tourism experience and used to recommend it to his guests when he managed Grand Pineapple Resort (a Sandals property). “Community tourism is now! Its action time and there is no other organization that is more ready than IIPT and CCTN.”

Distinguished guest, Hon. Mike Henry encapsulated the experience of Community-based tourism in his Greetings, he said “it is when the visitor connects with the heart and soul of a country and people. Beautiful scenery and exciting adventures will remain in the memory but the spirit of the people will always remain in the heart.” Minister Henry’s description is what drives Brand Jamaica’s expansion around the world.

M.r Pike was passionate when he explained the community tourism sensitization process which requires laying a foundation, he said “you have to sensitize, train, they have to be a part of the package, and understand how it is benefiting them. There is no other organization that has the Network that CCTN has and yet we have not realized the full financial benefit and that is a challenge. We cannot wait on them to take it up.”

He used Airbnb as an example of a community tourism organization using the vehicle of a website that people use to book vacations and visit communities all over the world. People are enjoying this niche. The Tourism Minister has taken note of the increasing demand for Airbnb rentals with demand coming out of New York, Florida and the United Kingdom. Delany Seiveright, Senior Tourism Strategist says “government has been trying to keep pace with the explosion of investment in Airbnb accommodation, including policy tweaks, that adjusts to the growth of the community-based, bed-and-breakfast type of hospitality service.”

Suwann of the Airbnb Latin America unit, said: “We know this is important income to local families, and helps them participate directly in the benefits of the tourism industry, bringing revenue to neighborhoods and communities. Airbnb is extremely proud of its thriving community of hosts and is committed to a long-term relationship with the Jamaican Government and the promotion of healthy, sustainable tourism that is inclusive and authentic.” Suwann confirmed: “Jamaican hosts made total income of US$12.1 million ($1.535 billion) by sharing their homes on the platform. Of the 3,700 hosts, 60 pe cent are female and 40 percent male.” (JamaicaGleaner.com Sunday | November 4, 2018)

This is significant growth for a new community tourism player. This raises the question: How are we going to market community tourism in Jamaica? Mr. Pike gives the answer in his closing statement below.

Mr. Pike “charged the community tourism players and stakeholders to bring it together and develop a focused strategic marketing approach which includes social media campaign and digital marketing. With a committed team, you can make it work. You have the communities, you have the network, you have everything you need. The R Hotel fully supports community tourism IIPT & CCTN; that is the only organization that is ready to have my guests going to the communities. They have done the groundwork.” Mrs Diana McIntyre-Pike said “CCTN looks forward to the partnership with the R Hotel and sees it as a trailblazer in Kingston paving the way for a prosperous and sustainable future for community tourism.”

The Welcome event music was performed by The Mighty Beeston Springs Mento Band. Aston Gage, Community Entrepreneur, danced the dinky minny with passion and drew guests the likes of Dr. D’Amore, Gillian Rowlands, Diana McIntyre-Pike and others into his circle on the dance floor to enjoy the festive moment.