Blue Mountains Sustainable Tourism
Blue Mountains Sustainable Tourism Programme
“The Blue Mountains Experience”
The goal of this programme is, “to deliver a high quality, world-class tourism destination that supports local communities and enhances conservation of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park and its environs”.
Background Information on the Blue Mountains Sustainable Tourism Programme
The vision of the Blue Mountains Sustainable Tourism (BMST) Programme is for the BJCMNP and its Community Buffer Zone to become Jamaica’s newest destination – focused entirely on experiencing the region’s unique natural and cultural heritage with the local community. Visitors from Jamaica or anywhere else in the world, will be able to spend several days within the destination, travelling from one area to another for different experiences within diverse locales.
The Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park has two main recreation areas within its boundaries:-
In addition, a section of the Cunha Cunha Pass Trail is within the National Park. To ensure conservation of the biodiversity and forest ecosystems of the National Park, its Management Plan recommends limited development of other recreational sites and/or trails within its boundaries.
From its inception, the management of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park has seen sustainable community tourism as an opportunity for alternative income generation. Low levels of employment in rural communities often leads to subsistence and small scale farming using unsustainable practices such as “slash-and-burn”. Tourism can generate additional jobs and income, thus reducing the number of people farming. Further, with its focus on the appreciation of nature, community members are encouraged to maintain and enhance their surroundings e.g. by practicing sustainable agriculture. Hence from 1993, Park management has implemented projects to promote and facilitate sustainable community tourism.
Between 2006 and 2009, with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank, the Holywell and Rio Grande Valley (and Peak Trail area) Commercial Development Project was implemented. Under this project, the JCDT in collaboration with targeted communities and working with US Forest Service Heritage Design consultants prepared a manual for implementation of the Blue Mountains Sustainable Tourism (BMST) Programme. Once fully funded, this Programme will consolidate the marketing and development of the region as a sustainable tourism destination. With the limited funding available, JCDT has been focusing on building capacity through training and most recently marketing.
The hub of the Destination will be the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. The National Park and the support it derives from packages sold, will help ensure the environmental sustainability of the Product and makes this a true ecotourism product. Jamaica is in the process of nominating the National Park and its environs for UNESCO World Heritage Site status, in recognition of its natural and cultural heritage significance. The ‘rim’ of the Destination will be the community-based and private sector owned attractions, festivals, accommodation, restaurants etc. around the National Park. Initially, the focus will be on the Holywell area including Irish Town/Redlight, Newcastle, Woodford and Cascade, Charles Town, Moore Town and the Upper Rio Grande Valley. This is an area well worth the time and expenditure of any visitor interested in eco-, heritage, adventure and/or community tourism.
The BMST Programme addresses key issues that plague development of new business opportunities in rural communities – inadequate marketing and capacity building. It also strengthens the JCDT as a provider of services that will enhance tourism business and income generation within the National Park. The BMST Programme will operate in the context of management of a National Park and will therefore be enhanced by ongoing activities such as reforestation, environmental education in local schools and public education in local communities.
Email or Call the JCDT to organise your own specialised tour involving the following areas:-