DEVELOPING ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND INNOVATION IN COMMUNITY TOURISM – through COUNTRYSTYLE VILLAGES AS BUSINESSES

Community_Tourism Countrystyle Community Tourism Network

Diana McIntyre-Pike, President/Founder, Countrystyle Community Tourism Network/Villages as Businesses and President, International Institute For Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) Caribbean Chapter & Coordinator of the IIPT International Community Tourism Network

Definition of Community Tourism

Community Tourism was created in 1978 at my small hotel The Astra in Jamaica and marketed internationally through the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) to assist communities in realizing the direct benefits of tourism in their own environment. This resulted in the IIPT branding Jamaica THE HOME OF COMMUNITY TOURISM. Community Tourism is holistic. It is not a niche form of tourism but provides for every niche market in an unconventional model. It depends on the appreciation and quality of indigenous resources to generate income and provides a tangible incentive and practical vehicle for community development.

At the first International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) Caribbean Conference, held in Montego Bay in 2003, it was agreed that “community tourism is community development through tourism.”

Objective and Purpose of the Villages as Businesses programme

The objective and purpose of the Countrystyle Villages as Businesses programme reside in the fundamental vision of Countrystyle, which is to empower and develop communities on a sustainable basis by helping them realise their natural culture, talents, passions and potential, and dynamically packaging, marketing and exposing each individual community to the world as a unique destination (product) within their general region.

The Mission of CCTN's Villages as Businesses programme

The Mission is to support the development of community tourism in Jamaica and internationally and to educate all stakeholders of its importance to the cause of peace, poverty alleviation and sustainable development and to offer local and foreign visitors diverse ‘community lifestyle experience’ vacations and tours.

How we Work

We achieve success with our member communities by building relationships, mobilizing community participation and sharing a vision that encourages creativity and collaboration, motivates everyone to seek economic opportunities within their local environment and stimulates entrepreneurship. We encourage communities to see visitor interest and expenditure as a catalyst for growing the broader economic activity, rather than a new source of revenue to be relied on.

While we discourage the creation of authentic attractions, we seek to diversify the tourism products and services we offer, and through this diversification, enhance our ability to apply to the varying market niches in the wide tourism marketplace.

Three Guiding Principles of the Countrystyle Villages as Businesses programme

1) Think Globally, Act Locally – with our distinct local flavours and cultures, we can create products which can be marketed throughout Jamaica, the Caribbean and the rest of the world. An example is the idea of ‘community theatres’ featuring the local talents while teaching community values and resources to both communities and visitors

2) Independence and Creativity – local citizens can and should decide for themselves what their Village product, theme or niche market should be. A village could choose three products, or two villages could combine to produce a single product. While government can provide technical support, marketing and other assistance, it needs to facilitate individual plans rather than competing or requiring standardization.

3) Fostering Human Resources – the ultimate goal of this movement is the development of human resources. No success can come about without visionary local leaders. It is important to develop a local community that responds creatively when challenged with difficult times.

The Community Lifestyle Experience Tours

The Countrystyle Community Tourism Network (CCTN) has successfully developed a dynamic marketing theme for communities The Community Lifestyle Experience offers local and foreign visitors a diverse vacation and tour experience anywhere in the Caribbean which promotes its nature, heritage, culture, music, cuisine and entertainment. CCTN helps villages design and package the Community Lifestyle Experiences for tour operators, travel agents and visitors. The packages take into consideration visitor interests and budgets and can include airport transfers, accommodation, meals, tours or vacations, community/host guide service, escort/guide rent-a-car and bus transportation.

Villages gain income directly from visitors through tours, homestay accommodation, entertainment and meals. But they also benefit because the tours include community businesses as interesting things to do and support, adding to the diverse experience provided to local and international visitors.

Our tours are demonstrating a growing market for authentic community experiences, even among the guests of large resort hotels. Visitors also welcome the opportunity to assist communities by participating in our "Adopt a Village" and "Pick a Project' programmes and contributing to COMTRUST, our Community Tourism Trust Fund.

Membership opportunities

The Countrystyle Villages as Businesses is a membership organization which offers education and training especially in Community Tourism Entrepreneurship and Hospitality from our Academy for Community Tourism (ACT) in partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI) OPEN CAMPUS anywhere in the world, marketing and business development support through our Consultancy arm which is available to any country at special discounted rates.

Conclusion

While community tourism has much to offer a local population, it is essential that the potential of the situation is carefully analysed and evaluated before embarking on the development of a significant project or promoting a community-based tourism strategy.

The Countrystyle Community Tourism Network's Villages as Businesses programme will ensure that the villages are developed in a sustainable way to protect the natural and cultural environment and improve the quality of its citizens through community tourism.

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