Further to my earlier post on the ecotourism initiatives in Cockpit Country, Jamaica, there is good news that a new visitor center and three trails have been opened in the north west section of Cockpit Country.
According to a report in the Jamaica Observer on Oct. 22:
FLAGSTAFF, St James - Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett last Thursday officially opened the Flagstaff Visitor Centre and Heritage Trails, a community-driven tourism initiative expected to provide employment for hundreds of residents in this north-westerly section of the Cockpit Country.
The heritage tour features three trails from the town centre in Flagstaff, which are designed to provide glimpses into the historical and cultural heritage of Maroon and British occupation, as well as the biodiversity and rich culture of the area.
The initiative involved the collaboration of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Protected Areas and Rural Enterprise project and the Local Forest Management Committee.
Other stakeholders include the Tourism Product Development Company, the Institute of Jamaica, HEART TRUST/NTA and Jamaica Business Development Centre and the Small Business Association of Jamaica.
Head of Mission at USAID Dr Karen Hilliard noted that the initiative would benefit the visitors and the community alike through "a sharing of common passions and new experiences."
"What you see here today is the result of a vision born in the community. It is an exceptional addition to Jamaica's tourism offerings," she said.
Chairman of the Local Forest Management Committee Michael Grizzle said Flagstaff possesses a unique heritage that is potentially viable to develop a eco-tourism model that could be developed throughout the Cockpit Country.
He said so far, more than 300 residents have been trained to offer services to visitors at the community-initiated Heritage Trail.
He added that the community will be forming an artisan co-operative to make paper from and other craft items from banana trees.
Wines and soaps are also another set of by-products from bananas as the community identifies other ways of utilising the produce.
A story board in the town square explains that visitors taking the hour-and-a-half journey will be able to stop at a tea house along the trail to sample herbal teas, and at a picnic area to be entertained by local musicians.
"There are also plans to build a museum to house the many artifacts that are being found in and around Flagstaff," Grizzle said.
See full report:
Open for business! - JamaicaObserver.com
Cockpit Country Jamaica: Land of Look Behind Looks Ahead