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CONTRIBUTED - Captain Mattocks (right) leads a walking tour through the Scott’s Hall Maroon community. The activities include walking tours, ancestral drumming and dancing, time-honoured cooking techniques and cuisine, introduction to traditional herbal healing remedies and introduction to traditional craft techniques.
Participating in the Cockpit Country adventures tours in Trelawny. The Cockpit Country offers towering cliffs, limestone caves, underground rivers and waterfalls.

Destination Jamaica - Home of exciting community-based adventures

Jeremy Taylor said he went spelunking during his day trip with Cockpit Country Adventures Tours, a community tourism organisation. As this was his maiden exploration, he was eager to get the adventure started. At the end of his tour he exclaimed, "There are some things that you have to try, if even just once". His sentiments echo an emerging trend in the global travel industry, where travellers are journeying to far places to experience meaningful interactions with the culture and people of a destination.

Like Taylor, visitors are fascinated and intrigued by the stories behind the music, the people, the dance forms, the religious practices, the myriad of indigenous and endemic plants and animals, as well as the ecological sites. And community-based tourism organisations are making the experiences unforgettable.

There are several communities across the island that offer exclusive experiences, including culture, adventure, heritage and farm tours. Here is a sample of the community-induced adventure that awaits: Known as the home of community tourism, Treasure Beach offers a once-a-month farm-to-table dinner on the Saturday closest to the full moon, on-and-off-road cycling tours and community events through the Breds Foundation.

Visitors are captivated by the tour at the Rastafari Indigenous Village, as it gives firsthand experiences on the way of life of this religious group. Many persons are unaware of the treasures that abound in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. The park is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, and is famed for its rich natural habitat of endemic species, as well as a cultural heritage site of the Windward Maroons. Drum and dance ceremonies and the community-operated Maroon Museum attract visitors to the Charles Town Maroons. The Trench Town Culture Yard is a national treasure and was made a national heritage site. This community-based organisation chronicles the birth and history of Jamaica's music icons and their contributions to the development of Jamaica's music genres.

A key advantage of community-based tourism is that it fosters opportunities for Jamaicans, at the community level, to participate more fully in the tourism industry. In lauding the offerings of Jamaica's community tourism, Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook said, "Community tourism offers some of the most authentic interactions for our visitors and community members. Visitors have the signal privilege to touch, hear, see and taste the heart and soul of Jamaica. With our rich and unique culture, we will always be in demand among the growing number of travellers who desire the bona fide community-based experiences we offer."

Community-based tourism is mutually beneficial as while it provides employment for community members, it is also an excellent medium that gives both hosts and guests a unique opportunity for cultural exchange. As visitors share in the life of these communities, it is impossible for them not to feel at home in a friendly and intimate setting. Activities such as homestays, community tours, the sharing of folklore, and the authentic Jamaican meals, foster the sharing of ideas and information exchanges in which friendships are formed.

So for authentic Jamaican adventures, enjoy the offerings of community-based organisations, if even just once. 

 

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