Villages as Businesses – Sustaining and Enhancing Caribbean Communities through Entrepreneurship

Diana McIntyre-Pike, President of Countrystyle Community Tourism Network and the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) Caribbean chapter has announced: THE VILLAGES AS BUSINESSES programme as an economic model for sustaining and enhancing Jamaican and Caribbean communities through Community Tourism. This innovative initiative has as its Patrons:  Louis D’Amore, IIPT Founder & President, & Ambassador Aloun Assamba, Jackie Minott CEO Jamaica Standard Products, Spanish Court Hotel Kingston, Goblin Hill Hotel Portland, National Association of Jamaicans and Supportive Organization (NAJASO) Eric Reverence, International Christian Worship Leader, Song writer, Worship, Evangelist and a Radio presenter based in London, UK , Michael Esposito, Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) with the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)

The Villages as Businesses programme was developed to create economic opportunities for community persons interested in investing in their communities by offering community tourism products and attractions that build on unique natural, cultural and human capital.

It aims to market authentic lifestyles, people and experiences. It views the tourism product of the Caribbean as relating not only to specific ‘resort areas’ or traditional tourism establishments, but to the entire country. All participating Villages/Communities are encouraged to stimulate entrepreneurship and identify unique opportunities, such as natural, man-made or traditional cultural practices, within their local environment.

The Caribbean is the most tourism dependent region in the world.  If it is not managed in a sustainable way, it will compromise the future.   The Village Programme sees communities as destinations essential to the diversification and sustainability of the industry.  Community Tourism, the Village Community Experience tours and Homestays respond to a growing demand for more responsible and mutually beneficial relationships between host and visitor.  They open up new niches, most notably for the nature-culture-adventure-wellness traveller and allow visitors to enjoy the community lifestyle while on vacation, which is marketed as ‘the community experiences of the Caribbean’. This offers tailor-made packages and tours depending on the visitors’ interest and budget.

IIPT Caribbean/Countrystyle’s vision is thus to see communities as destinations for responsible visitors and for Community Tourism to be the vehicle for sustainable development and prosperity. Villages hold the destiny of the country within them. Every community and every citizen is a potential tourism business partner with the chance to improve earnings and become empowered and educated through involvement in the expanded industry (value chain). However, to become an effective partner, every community and every citizen needs to understand how to value their natural, cultural, heritage and human assets and to add value to them through conservation, creativity and education.

Community tourism and the Villages as Businesses programme therefore, offer a powerful and practical vehicle for training in hospitality skills, small business management, product development and marketing.  They also reinforce the need to foster awareness of the value and care of natural, cultural and heritage assets and to protect food security, healthy cuisine and lifestyles focused on wellness. IIPT Caribbean/Countrystyle takes a strongly participatory approach to developing the Villages as Businesses Programme, encouraging citizens to participate in and benefit from their own development by mobilizing their own resources, defining their own needs and making their own decisions about how to meet them.

The objective is to build relationships, mobilize community participation and creativity under an agreed vision.  IIPT Caribbean/Countrystyle sees particularly fruitful opportunities in the Villages as Businesses Programme for the youth of the Caribbean in terms of building human capital: building self-esteem, skills and capacity. Then there is the need to form partnerships and international links for sharing solutions that can be translated into ‘on the ground’ implementation.

It is envisaged that when the economics of village living is strong a number of positive things will happen for the community folk, such as: improved living conditions; reduced migration abroad or to larger towns; conservation and enhancement of the value of natural and man-made beauty or cultural heritage; preservation of the environment and the traditions; increased attractiveness of Jamaica and the Caribbean region as a destination for visitors that want unique vacation experiences; increased visitor respect for the traditions of others; and improvement in the overall Jamaican tourism product.

About Countrystyle Community Tourism Network:

Countrystyle Community Tourism Network supports the development of Community Tourism in Jamaica, the Caribbean and internationally, as well as, educates all stakeholders of its importance to the cause of peace, poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Through this approach the organization offers local and foreign visitors diverse ‘community experience’ vacations and tours. The IIPT Caribbean/Countrystyle Tourism Villages as Businesses programme has been offering on a small scale diverse ‘community experience vacations and tours’ over the past 15 years.

About The International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT):
The International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) is a not for profit organization dedicated to fostering travel and tourism initiatives that contribute to international understanding and cooperation, an improved quality of environment, the preservation of heritage, and poverty reduction; and through these initiatives, helping to bring about a peaceful and sustainable world.  It is founded on a vision of the world’s largest industry, travel and tourism becoming the world’s first global peace industry; and the belief that every traveler is potentially an Ambassador for Peace and the IIPT Caribbean was their first chapter formed with Diana McIntyre-Pike, of the Countrystyle Community Tourism Network, as its President.