KINGSTON, JAMAICA, June 29, 2008 – The International Institute for Peace through Tourism’s (IIPT) first International Community Tourism Retreat, recently held at the Jamaica Pegasus, was a shining example of sustainable tourism at work. The theme of tourism entrepreneurship – sustaining and transforming communities will become the underpinning fiber upon which community tourism is built. This theme was woven throughout the conference symposium panels, which manifested in the long sought-after recognition that community tourism is an integral part of sustainable tourism.
IIPT International President, Louis D’Amore in his keynote presentation said, “It’s not often that one gets to step in for the prime minister of a country.” He used the opportunity to share his vision of peace through tourism for Jamaica and equated the “new tourism,” referred to by Zackary Harding, Special Advisor to the Ministry of Tourism, to ‘community tourism.’ He said after this retreat, “Jamaica will become known as the Mecca for community tourism”.
In rolling out his peaceful mission for Jamaica, Louis D’Amore extended an invitation to Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, to lead a delegation from Jamaica to the IIPT European Conference to be held October 21-25, 2008. The delegation would include Diane McIntyre-Pike, President IIPT Caribbean; Gillian Rowlands, the new Vice President, IIPT Caribbean; Mark Pike, National Youth Ambassador at Large; Sharon Parris-Chambers, President, Editor-in-Chief, Positive Tourism News; Ministry of Tourism representatives and community leaders.
D’Amore called on the IIPT Caribbean to help establish peace parks in every community in Jamaica, starting with an IIPT Peace Park at Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth, to be dedicated on September 21 – the UN International Day of Peace.
He further encouraged the identification of heritage sites in Jamaica that might become part of the African Diaspora Heritage Trail. Speaking against the horrors of slavery, Mr. D’Amore said that he has heard of St. Elizabeth’s past history of slavery as a slave trading site and renounced the past acts as totally inhumane and unconscionable. He proposed the twinning of St. Elizabeth with Bagamoyo, Tanzania, a historic slave trading site on the East Coast of Africa.
Conference highlights included the launching of two new initiatives, citations, recognition for past achievements, outcomes and resolutions for the way forward. Ian Neita, Executive Director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, honored Diana McIntyre-Pike for her outstanding contribution to community tourism for over 30 years and rewarded her with a citation. The IIPT Caribbean Youth Community Tourism Network and The Desmond Henry Community Tourism Entrepreneurship Fund were launched. Jacqueline DaCosta, Chairperson of the National Best Community Competition, announced the awardees for 2007 – Glengoffe CDC, St. Catherine, winners of the $2 million first prize in 2007.
Community Tourism has been identified by IIPT as one of the tourism modules that can be used to create peace by having tourists visit local communities to share and understand the culture of the host country. It is also a great crime reduction program because once locals see the benefits to their local tourism product, they will police and protect the tourism product as their own initiative.