The Emergence of Experiential Tourism in Jamaica
St. Elizabeth, Jamaica- Treasure Beach is located on the southwest of Jamaica, on the South Coast of the Parish of St. Elizabeth and comprises of eight districts, namely: Calabash Bay, Sandy Bank, Billy’s Bay, Frenchman, Fort Charles, Great Bay, Bluntlers, and Beacon. Heritage sites and natural beauty spots are readily accessible, though not strictly within the target area. These natural assets are complemented by a community characterized by small hoteliers, farmers and tour operators who form the Treasure Beach cluster.
On July 3, 2014, Compete Caribbean (CC) provided Treasure Beach with a USD 500,000 grant to support the community in developing the tourism potential of the area and develop and market a unique brand of tourism for Treasure Beach, Jamaica. The funding would be used to support three main aspects of local tourism development- 1) Organizing the Treasure Beach enterprises for success ; 2)Development of a world class tourism product; and 3) Branding and advertising strategies.
October marked the closing of The Treasure Beach Cluster project, focused on supporting the Treasure Beach community to bolster the tourism potential of the area and develop and market a unique brand of tourism not only for Treasure Beach, and also for Jamaica as a whole. This was done by first encouraging the cluster to better understand the economic potential of the type of Tourism most suitable to their natural endowments and the extent to which they had the basis in terms of tourism related products and services to compete for tourists. In addition, at the start of the project more than 90% of the small businesses in Treasure Beach did not meet the standards or the formal requirements to participate in the industry. With technical assistance from CC, more than 60% of the businesses in Treasure Beach were able to achieve or start the process of achieving compliance with government regulations, and Jamaica’s tourism enterprise standards. The project even spurred the emergence of the new Tourism Product Development Co. Home Stay category, which extended the possibility of formalization to many operators in the Treasure Beach area. Compliance ensures that even the smallest tourism enterprises could actively participate in and benefit from a revitalized Treasure Beach economy.
In addition to developing the enterprises in Treasure Beach, the project also sought to develop the community’s brand of Tourism. Studies supported by the project revealed that at an increasing level tourists want authentic experiences from their travel and are willing to pay more for it. This helped to provide the basis for the development of Treasure Beach Journeys, or the refinement of authentic, people based experiences from Treasure Beach. From Captain Dennis’s Adventure Tours to Dawn’s Dancing Dinners or Jake’s pick your passion, a visitor to Treasure Beach can now engage in any one or all of the ten new experiences the project helped to develop. One community member is quoted as saying “the cluster group gives people confidence and gives people ideas, recognizing that they can turn something “everyday” into tours; ideas that you don’t need a ton a money to do”. Taking this to the world became the next challenge and emerging as a result of the support of the project was the new Treasure Beach Brand and e-commerce platform. With the tagline “you are born here”, the brand’s tone and feel were designed to elicit emotion around the key attributes of a Treasure Beach visit,
specifically that you feel as if you belong there when visiting and are forever changed after visiting Treasure Beach. Moreover, project resources were also dedicated to the development of successfully establishing and staffing a Destination Management and Marketing Organization (DMMO) which will hold the responsibility of managing the Treasure Beach brand and executing the community’s market strategy. The DMMO will serve the community and key stakeholders to educate them on the meaning and usefulness of the Treasure Beach brand to maximize its benefits.
The project motivated the cluster to work with the relevant public sector entities and achieved several notable results including the Tourism Enterprise Fund revolving loan fund and other financing options. There have also been public commitments from the local government to road improvement work in the area, and an ongoing support for community tourism in Treasure Beach. These fortuitous breakthroughs come after 20 years ongoing dialogue centred around the collaboration of Treasure Beach and the Jamaican government to fulfill the market potential that the community had to offer Jamaica’s tourism sector, and local residents agree that as a result of the Compete Caribbean intervention, the Treasure Beach community has been brought into focus with local stakeholders and its potential in the global niche tourism market.
Compete Caribbean has significantly contributed to the development of Treasure Beach’s tourism product and to marketing its unique brand of community based tourism. Treasure Beach now has a great deal of momentum on its side as well as an engaged tourism community, support from the Government of Jamaica and the opportunity to exploit a global trend in travelers seeking a more authentic and community based tourism experience.
Compete Caribbean is a private sector development program that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME) development activities in the Caribbean region. The program, jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Canada, and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), supports projects in 15 Caribbean countries. Projects in the OECS countries are implemented in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank.
Compete Caribbean gives boost to Business Process Outsourcing Sector in Jamaica
Montego Bay, Jamaica – Since the 1990s, Jamaica has been successful in attracting Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) operations and currently represents 9% of the region’s market in terms of workers, revenue and number of firms. However, as the country seeks to progressive move up the BPO value chain, support is needed in order to improve the business environment via policies and strategies in order to maintain the competitiveness and viability of the sector in a dynamic global industry.
The Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) is a cluster of organizations that provide Business Process Outsourcing services to near shore markets such as the United States. The cluster consists of 25 institutions, including 14 BPO companies, 7 private enterprises, and 4 public organizations including JAMPRO and the University of the West Indies (UWI).
On June 16, 2014, Compete Caribbean (CC) officially began providing technical support to the BPIAJ to position itself as viable and competitive supplier of BPO services for near shore markets. This began through the establishment of a 200 seat contact centre incubator which can house 4 nascent firms simultaneously. The introduction of the incubator has proved effective in aiding new entities to enter the market with ease with its turn-key/plug n play design. By the end of the project, five (5) new firms had joined the Contact Center Incubator of which three have already graduated into their own spaces within the Montego Free Zone, employing more than 600 young Jamaicans between them. Additionally, the cluster has
been able to leverage the project to prepare the member firms for certification and to forge stronger relationships with its external partners such as the HEART Trust/ National Training Agency, which provides technical vocational training to the active work force. Through this partnership, revised curricula have been developed to assist in the training of employees for contact centre operations with additional focuses on technical support and sales. The
cluster has also been able to devote resources from the project to support language training in Spanish for its employees, conducted by UWI.
Since the project’s inception, the BPIAJ has diversified and moved up the value chain in the range of services offered; with the cluster reporting approximately 4,500 full-time jobs being created; and a significant boost in the number of international markets serviced,
including the United Kingdom, Australia and the Philippines.
Overall, Compete Caribbean has supported Jamaica to establish itself as a credible and formidable provider of BPO services, and the BPIAJ’s incubator has become a key input to attract new providers to the Industry.
Creating Opportunities Through Innovation
Montego Bay, Jamaica – Innovation, what you think about when you hear this word? Innovation is the single largest contributor to productivity growth. In recent times, the Caribbean has not kept pace with other developing countries when it comes to innovation and this has been reflected in stagnating or declining rate of growth. But how can we combat this scarcity of innovation in the region? One way to do so is to advocate the lessons learned from actors in the region that have been successful in innovating in their respective fields so that others can emulate.
In Jamaica, Foromic 2016 provided the platform for this advocacy of innovation to over 1,000 institutions region wide. Foromic is a forum that promotes innovation and empowerment of micro, small and medium enterprises to overcome the challenges of poverty. Topics ranged from microinsurance, to women entrepreneurship to green and rural finance.
It was at Foromic that Compete Caribbean participated on a panel on innovation with two of the firms who had received technical assistance from the Program for innovation purposes. The Panel was consisted of Dr. Sylvia Dohnert, Executive Director Compete Caribbean; Mr. Rickert Allen (moderator), Senior General Manager, National Commercial Bank, Jamaica Limited; Ronald Hinds (counterpart), CEO, Teleios Systems Limited; and Kapil Mohabir (counterpart), CEO Plympton Farms. Plympton Farms is an agricultural firm out of Guyana that specializes in producing vegetables that have not been traditionally grown in Guyana. Teleios, on the other hand, is an Information Technology firm out of Trinidad, with a focus on software and application development. The panel composition allowed for a stimulating forum with input from diverse sectors on how innovation has guided their entrepreneurial journey and Compete Caribbean assisted in that journey.
The session was opened by a presentation by Dr. Dohnert, who discussed why innovation is importantby demonstrating how countries that devote resources to innovate are more productive and prosperous than those who don’t. She went to show how regional initiatives such as Compete Caribbean, EPIC and LINK (Caribbean Exports) are seeking, through different mechanisms and at different stages of the firm’s lifecycle, to promote an innovative culture in the region by supporting firms and institutions to create radical innovation with the purpose of transforming the economy.
Guided by the insightful and provocative questions posed by Mr. Allen, Mr. Hinds and Mr. Mohabir divulged how innovation worked to add value to their business, with the CEO of Plympton stating that through innovation his firm was able to cultivate commercial yields of vegetables on sand laden fields – an unprecedented feat in Guyana; while Teleios explained how the use of coding competitions allowed them recruit innovative personnel from participating universities in Trinidad & Tobago and subsequently encourage an innovative culture within the firm which allowed them to develop new ideas. In fact, the workflow application developed with Compete Caribbean assistance resulted from one of the firm’s routine innovation sessions. The emerging themes from the panel were the important role of government in fostering an innovative culture, and how even firms with few resources can innovate by taking “customer focused” risks.
Finally, the key messages from these successful innovators are that entrepreneurs must learn how to live with failure, and that firms must make time for innovation on a regular basis, whether it is individually or collaboratively. In sum, the forum led to important insights that were passed to the entrepreneurs and policymakers in the audience to stimulate them to make their own mark on the growth and development of their own firms and on the region.
See Compete’s full panel discussion at Foromic 2016 here.
Foromic 2016 to take place in Montego Bay, Jamaica!
The leading conference in the region on financial inclusion, microfinance, development of MSMEs and entrepreneurship is scheduled to take place on October 24 -26 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
In its 19th edition, the event will gather around 1, 300 participants from more than 40 countries to exchange knowledge, strengthen partnerships and identify new business opportunities. Don’t miss out on your chance to be part of a cutting-edge conference!
Foromic is organized by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group.
$20M Funding Support for Tourism in Treasure Beach, Jamaica
Treasure Beach, Jamaica, August 28, 2016 – The Ministry of Tourism has established a $20 million loan facility for the operators of small resorts and attractions in Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth. Beneficiaries can access up to $2 million each under the scheme, which is being financed by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and administered by Jamaica National Small Business Loans Limited. This provision is part of the Ministry’s National Community Tourism Policy and Strategy. It aims to diversify Jamaica’s resort product offerings by facilitating tourism developments at the community level.
The Community Tourism Loan Facility will complement funding support which has also been provided for resort developments in Treasure Beach under the $5 billion (US$40 million) Compete Caribbean Programme. Nearly $80 million (US$627,000) has, to date, been allocated to community stakeholders under the private sector development initiative that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding for projects in 15 Caribbean countries. Compete Caribbean is jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Government of Canada.
The Community Tourism Loan Facility, which is initially being implemented as a pilot, was launched recently by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, at BREDS Treasure Beach Sports Park in St. Elizabeth. Mr. Bartlett said the provision will enable the beneficiaries to carry out upgrading consistent with industry standards, and which would appeal to discerning clients. He contends that this is vital in positioning Treasure Beach as a unique destination offering a “rustic experience where the link with nature is never broken, but the quality is still at the highest level.”
This, the Minister added, would cater to persons seeking alternatives to the formal luxurious settings characterising the more established resorts and attractions. In noting that the south coast is “a treasure to be honed and established as a global brand”, Mr. Bartlett said the stakeholders were being offered the opportunity to “respond to the demand for destination assurance that the industry requires of you.” This, he pointed out, includes licensing and compliance, “so that when we sell destination Treasure Beach, we are not second-guessing the quality of the experience or the integrity of the product.”
In anticipation of increased visitor arrivals in Treasure Beach, Mr. Bartlett announced that the TEF will fund road repairs in the community at a cost of $28 million. Consideration will also be given to upgrading the Lionel Densham Aerodrome in St. Elizabeth to accommodate visitors desirous of travelling by air. In encouraging the stakeholders to seize the available opportunities, Mr. Bartlett, who anticipates that the pilot will be successful, expressed the hope that “it will be replicated across the island.”
Mr. Bartlett also hailed the longstanding partnership forged between the Ministry and JN Small Business, which he said has facilitated the provision of over 240 loans totalling $556 million to fund developments at various other small tourism entities.
Treasure Beach, Jamaica . . . A State of Mind . . .
About to introduce me at the South Coast Resort Board meeting, the effervescent Chairman, Tony Freckleton, mused aloud about Jamaica’s regard for two Canadian prime ministers, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, and the current Justin Trudeau. And he went on to announce, “so let’s hear from Mr Trudeau’s cousin . . . ” Apparently that meant . . . me! So I began with, “the last time I was in Jamaica, Mr Chairman, was 47 years ago. Now, that’s a very long time between Red Stripes . . . “
In June I had arrived in Treasure Beach, on Jamaica’s south coast, as CESO (Canadian Executive Services Organisation) Lead Volunteer Advisor, to establish the basis for future Volunteer (there are 735 of us) visits from CESO, in specialised areas of Community-based Tourism, looking specifically at capacity-building and market-readiness. This CESO mission is in conjunction with a number of other consultancies, all supported by Compete Caribbean and the Inter-American Bank. At Treasure Beach, our CESO client is the tourism ‘Cluster Group’. Prior to my visit, I had read nearly 800 pages of Consultants’ Reports, and while at Treasure Beach, I met another 6 consultants. Was I to be in the midst of some sort of ‘consultant bumper-cars’? Thanks to the astonishingly efficient Facilitator, Maisie Allen, she seemed able to effortlessly juggle industrial-quantities of consultants (and probably toss in a few pelicans as well!)
Now . . . the first thing to know about this wonderful Treasure Beach is that there’s no such place! What it is is a chain of coastal communities; and any of the gregarious locals will name all four for you. Or all seven. Perhaps eight! Or, some other number in between.
And the second thing to know? In this ‘place’ that doesn’t formally exist, it also gets along pretty well without any municipal governments! None! Treasure Beach is more a ‘state-of-mind’, than an actual place! And yet . . . and yet, the sense of community is steel-strong! Almost miraculous. And wonderful.
Two organisations in particular keep it humming. The Breds Foundation contributes to much of the infrastructure of this community; and the Treasure Beach Women’s Group offers a rainbow array of social services. And how much they have been able to accomplish! There is a Sports Complex with fields and amenities built and maintained by Breds that would grace a much larger community! They promote and provide “Education, Sports, Cultural Heritage and Emergency Health Care”. The latter is critical as the nearest medical facility is 25 km away in Black River.
So what did the Foundation do? They established, and operate, a community-based Ambulance Service!
And the Women’s Group – if I had a hat on, I’d take it off to them. Twice-a-year free medical clinics. Literacy Training Program. Kids’ Summer Arts Programs. Christmas Parties for local children. And elders and shut-ins! Support for the Orphanage. Free sewing classes, and workshops – fabric printing, book-binding, crocheting using recycled plastic bags.
And they donate! To the primary school, to Jamaica Aids Support, to the Walk for Haiti. Yes, and to the Community Ambulance too. How? They raise their own funds of course; by community events and their “Treasure Hunt Craft Shop”. They even accept men members, though this particular “Mr Trudeau’s cousin” wouldn’t have a smidgen of the energy and drive of these remarkable women!
All up and down the Treasure Beach communities, one can find praiseworthy examples of initiatives to better the place where they all live. And to look after their own. When a recent spate of petty thefts occurred, the informal telephone-tree alerted an army of ‘eyes’ and the problem disappeared immediately. As only a community that believes in itself can accomplish.
So . . . what happened when one of Treasure Beach’s two ‘anchor industries’ collapsed? As the waters of Jamaica became over-fished and that vital mainstay industry evaporated, the community collectively came to the conclusion that the other anchor industry – farming – needed another ‘leg’ to maintain employment and opportunity for their people. (But not before the Breds Foundation began remediation with the Galleon Bay Fish Sanctuary of course!)
Hence, tourism. But, as they gazed around, they settled on two decisions – neither all-inclusives nor mega-developments would better their lives or enhance their lifestyle. They resolved to become Jamaica’s proud, “Home of Community Tourism”. And the Government of Jamaica agreed.
Enter the Enterprise Innovation Challenge Fund of Compete Caribbean and the IDB. Baseline studies and strategic plans and branding exercises and training programs were undertaken; by international consultancies (just some of those 800 pages!!!!) of which CESO has been, and will continue to be, an integral part; all backed by Government of Jamaica agencies such as the TPDCo (Tourism Product Development), the Ministry of Tourism and the Jamaica Tourist Board.
But most important of all have been the enthusiasm and cooperation of the local people. Without this commitment and enthusiasm, and their collective vision, none of this would be possible. And because that commitment is so unswerving, it’s not only “possible” but is coming to reality. So, does it take a place that doesn’t really exist to make a community enterprise a reality? The people of Treasure Beach, and their many helpers and supporters, can show you how.
And what will their ‘tourism experience’ offer? It’s still being developed, but I have no doubt it will reflect the ‘Community Tourism’ they have embraced and the attributes they have developed together: “Unexpected. Authentic. Connection”. “Authentic” and “Connected” it will be I’m sure – whether it’s a sizzling breakfast at Dawn Moxam’s “Smurf’s Cafe”, agritourism with Jason Henzell of Jake’s Hotel’s “Jerk and Melon Tour”, or Damian Parchment’s bicycle tour to Great Bay and dinner there with feet-in-the-sand at the “Lobster Pot”.
Or how about the well-established biennial literary Calabash Festival? Or a special Jamaican Dinner with Captain Dennis at his home; or a Rastafarian Dinner with Rebecca Wiersma’s Treasure Beach Tours at Frankie and Keisha’s laid-back “Ital Rest”. Or the new hiking trail developed by Josh Williams and the community group at Billy’s Bay; tourists WILL connect with the communities of Treasure Beach.
But what about that “Unexpected”? On my last morning at Sunset Beach Resort, I asked two guests who’d been having a romantic sundown meal at Frenchman’s Reef the night before – dressed up for what was their farewell dinner – what they’d liked most about their visit? They were a late-30’s couple from Holland – and widely travelled – and she answered immediately. “You know, in Holland, at night we see only city lights or grow-lights from all our greenhouses. As we sat at our dinner, it was so magical to look out over the Caribbean. And see just the dark!”
Life’s simplest pleasures, and a tourist memory so . . . unexpected.
Productive Development Policies in Jamaica
Cluster, Collaborate, Export and Thrive: The Growth of an Ornamental Fish Industry in Urban Communities in Jamaica (Project Type – Support to Clustering Initiatives)
Specialized Tank Cleaning Facility in Jamaica
The project will create a centralized specialized ISO-tank container cleaning facility of ISO standards within the port of Kingston providing cleaning, repairs, testing and certification services to our Caribbean users.
Investment Promotion and Economic Development Framework in Jamaica
- Identifying at least three strategic sectors and developing action plans for each;
- Strengthening the dialogue with strategic investors by identifying and facilitating outreach to key investors and the implementation of the Jamaica Investment Forum as a platform for dialogue.
- Increasing the coordination mechanisms between the different agencies engaged in investment promotion.
- Increasing the awareness of Jamaica’s opportunities for investment through the implementation of the Jamaican Investment Forum.