Joe Issa Backs Business Opportunity Workshops for BJCMNP Residents

Only months after businessman and civic leader Joe Issa urged for work to start in earnest in monetizing the benefits from the inscription of Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJCMNP) on the World Heritage List, his call has been answered.

An announcement from the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport says it is to hold this week the first in a series of business opportunity workshops for residents of 30 communities in Portland, one of four parishes covered by the 78,000-hectare park including St Thomas, St Andrew, and South-East St Mary.

“I am pleased that we have finally got the ball rolling on this one. There is much to be done: we have to identify and train people to develop, operate and protect the various attractions on the site and to keep them at first world standard.

“Visitors are very particular about the standards of facilities which they visit, including beauty, service, historic or other values, health and safety and security. These are the major categories which the cruise lines and hotels will evaluate to determine whether or not to send their guests there,” Issa informs.

The journey of BJCMNP to the World Heritage List has been closely followed by Issa, from application to inscription. In a 2014 article in US news distributor PRWeb, Issa backed Jamaica’s application, stating that the iconic site “is a formidable Jamaican heritage, harboring the country’s rich and diverse flora and fauna and its major watersheds.”

The BJCMNP contains the largest area of primary natural forest remaining in Jamaica and is high in biodiversity, with about 40 per cent of the plants and animals found there are either endemic to Jamaica, or are found only in the park’s ecosystems.

And when the site finally made it to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2015, he was once again reported hailing the success, saying “it’s great news for Jamaica’s tourism product and the Maroons who have live there for hundreds of years” and that “monetization and protection of the site should begin in earnest.”

“This (inscription) will bring it (BJCMNP) to the attention of nature lovers around the world, who form a large and growing segment of visitors to the island,” Issa added then.

The first of the workshops, which aim to assist Portland residents to tap into the business and income generation potential of the site, will be held on Wednesday, May 11 at Devon House in Kingston.

The 30 workshops over the next 24 months will we undertaken with the collaboration of the Jamaica Conservation Development Trust, (JCDT), which manages BJCMNP, and Devon House Development Company.

The workshops boast a list of impressive presenters from several major government and private sector institutions, including the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), Ministry of Tourism, Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), and Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).

Other participating entities are: HEART Trust/NTA, Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ), the Small and Medium Enterprises Unit in Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, and First Heritage Cooperative Credit Union (FHCCU).