What is the origin of your innovation? Tell the Changemakers and media communities what prompted you to start this initiative.
The BPCA has spent the past 20 years working with local residents and coordinating with development agencies to address our residents’ basic needs: education, health-care, and food security. We have come to the conclusion that if we are to become a truly economically and environmentally sustainable society, we must embrace a more holistic approach to community development. Our educated youth need jobs to keep them in the area, a healthy community is reliant on a healthy environment, and food security requires both environmental and economic drivers. We envision a society where everyone has equal access to basic services and jobs, and where we support one another in our economic endeavors. Building a more locally driven hospitality industry is one of the means to our end. Locally-owned companies like Reliable Adventures - who recently received the Jamaica Tourism Board’s Tourism Excellence Award - are taking ownership of the type of visitor experience being offered in our area.
The BPCA's newly adopted strategic direction has seen the organization focus more on its role as convener for the Bluefields Community Development Committee (a coalition of civil society partners established under the government's local government reform). We feel we are most effective in the role of enabling and supporting Bay Area social entrepreneurs and the work they are trying to achieve. The BPCA has spawned several civil society groups on the Bay over the years –several like Reliable Adventures Jamaica being run by BPCA members. Many of these groups are young and energetic but lack basic management capacities and support. Over the next 2-years the BPCA will transform its facilities in the village of Belmont into a Community Resource Centre to serve our Community Development Committee partners behind a vision of sustainable development for the Bluefields Bay.
The BPCA will formally launch the Bluefields 20/20 Challenge Campaign in December 2009. The Campaign’s initial goal is to increase public awareness of the ecological and historical significance of Bluefields while promoting compatible economic development based on nature-based, community owned and operated hospitality enterprises. The Bluefields 20/20 Challenge Campaign will motivate Bay Area residents to create a sustainable community by 2020.
The campaign structure relies heavily on social networks and positive actions to tackle the most pressing environmental, social and economic problems being experienced in Jamaica. One of the reasons such an intense campaign is being implemented is to draw the attention of Bluefields residents and visitors to the issues and opportunities impacting Bluefields Bay and to recruit as many people as possible behind a common set of objectives. The Bluefields 20/20 Challenge Campaign is also a fundraising mechanism that will solicit financial and in-kind support from around the world. The BPCA, working together with a network of local and overseas friends and associates, has set an initial target of raising US$1 million in cash contributions over the next 3-years. These contributions will finance the launch of an initial set of pilot projects demonstrating proof of concept for the ideas being promoted.
Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.
After ten years with The Nature Conservancy, Terry Williams recently returned to Bluefields where he’d previously spent 12 years developing the Bluefields Project into one of the most dynamic community development programs in the Caribbean. As director of The Nature Conservancy’s Southeast Caribbean Program, Terry Williams directed a diverse, multidisciplinary team of professionals that developed and implemented programs to conserve some of the Caribbean’s most important marine and terrestrial natural resources, in partnership with governments, nongovernmental organizations and local communities. Together with Wolde Kristos of Reliable Adventures, Terry is providing leadership and coordination for this initiative.
Describe some unique tourist experiences that your approach provides. Be specific; give illustrative examples.
Locally-grown tourism ventures like Reliable Adventures and The Villas on Bluefields Bay have given the community confidence that our brand of community based hospitality can succeed and provide excellent service. To quote Debbie Moncure, owner of the Villas on Bluefields Bay: “Our goal is to create an environment where our guests can truly experience the natural beauty of Jamaica & its people. By fostering an environment where our guests can be part of the community instead of being removed from it, we have seen them develop many meaningful friendships with local residents and this has brought them back to Bluefields again and again”.
That statement pretty much sums up the experience we want for visitors to Bluefields Bay. We want our visitors to feel welcomed and comfortable, and that can only be truly achieved if they feel like part of the Bluefields Bay community. In addition to experiencing becoming short-term community members, visitors will enjoy the stunning natural beauty, with its intact coastal habitats for shore birds; hiking & bird-watching in the verdant hills & valleys, and; tour the many sites of rich colonial & pre-Columbian history.
What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?
Strategic alliances will need to be forged between the BPCA and subject area experts to assess and develop business plans. Joint venture partnerships & business ventures – especially with Jamaican private sector companies – will need to be secured. Trading links and business joint ventures will have to be developed in agriculture, fisheries and tourism. New local entrepreneurs will greatly benefit from business planning and development, financial management, hospitality service training, capacity building and mentoring.