Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were the latest stops on a regional four country mission by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to support community-based Tourism Projects. This support is provided by the Regional Integration through Growth, Harmonisation and Technology (RIGHT) Programme which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the OECS Commission.
OECS Member States identified Community-based Tourism (CBT) as an important priority market. With this in mind, one of the components of the OECS – EU RIGHT Programme is to assist in the development and advancement of CBT. In 2021 a Call for Proposals went out for OECS CBT Projects to assist in diversifying the tourism product offering.
Eligible registered community-based entities are to receive a range of support. Each proposal was expected to show the impact of the project and the benefit to the community, as well as to demonstrate how the visitor experience will be enhanced. Four projects were selected for support – Dragon Bay Jetty in Grenada; Rails to Trails in St. Kitts; Fond St. Jacques Agro-Tourism Park in Saint Lucia; and Madeira Valley Forest Park in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
In April, Senior Technical Specialist for Tourism at the OECS Commission, Maria Fowell visited first the Madeira Valley Heritage Park in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and then Dragon Bay Jetty in Grenada to gain an appreciation of the scope of work involved in the projects and to engage the communities on project implementation. The visit allowed the OECS Commission to confirm elements of the site development to be supported by the RIGHT Programme; engage the community to identify any critical challenges that may need to be addressed ahead of the projects’ implementation and; engage national tourism officials.
“Establishing in-person community contact makes for much smoother project implementation. Engaging the Ministries of Tourism and the Tourism Authorities allows us all to be on the same page, working towards the same goal. Walking the sites in both Saint Vincent and in Grenada allows us to have a better appreciation of the overall scope of projects – the huge potential for Community-based Tourism and most certainly the graciousness and hospitality of the communities,” Fowell stated.
At the Madeira Valley Heritage Park located in Bridgetown Biabou, South Windward in Saint Vincent, the OECS Senior Technical Specialist for Tourism trekked to the top summit as well as walked the perimeter of the property for a firsthand view of the specific elements to be supported, which includes the clearing of the riverbed, construction of a gabion basket wall for slope stabilization and gutter control to prevent erosion and invasion of water on to land.
The Dragon Bay Jetty Development on the western side of Grenada is being facilitated through the Beausejour Eco-Development Association (BEDA) Inc. Support will include the facilitation of the construction of the jetty which will connect the surrounding communities to marine related activities within the Marine Protected Area as well as some support for the construction of a Tourist Interpretation Centre/Management outlet.
A site visit of the Fond St. Jacques Agro-Tourism Park in Soufriere, Saint Lucia took place earlier this year. The fourth and final site verification visit, the Rails to Trail project in St. Kitts, is scheduled for May 2022.