Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 17, 2016 (SKNIS): Communities in St. Kitts and Nevis have played and continues to play an important role in the development of the tourism sector, as each community possesses a number of characteristics that would appeal to tourists, while at the same time creating jobs for locals.

While appearing on “Working for You” on Wednesday (November 16), Shaline Welcome, Community Tourism Officer in the Ministry of Tourism, stated that communities possess richness in their history, cultural and natural elements, linkages and relationships between the tourists, and that these are beneficial not only to the tourists but the Federation as well. She noted that the Ministry of Tourism works closely with these communities to arrive at the best possible results that will eventually redound to the benefit of all.

“So far, the Ministry of Tourism has built some awareness with a few community groups who have initiated and completed projects,” said Ms. Welcome. “We’ve touched on the beautification process and the importance of keeping the surroundings clean. Just recently, we acknowledged two community groups – the McKnight on the Rise Community Group, who did its beautification project in McKnight, utilizing recyclable materials, and the United Villages of Boyd’s, West Farm and Palmetto Point, who would be doing a beautification project on their lawn in Boyd’s and West Farm.”

Ms. Welcome stated that recognition was also given to two small business entrepreneurs in the Federation, who utilized the sustainable initiative of using recyclable materials known as the pallet board initiative.

“The pallet board initiative is a cost-effective and a sustainable method and they have used that by creating small businesses on the main road, selling local drinks and food,” she said, while adding that the ministry is in the process of undertaking the Rails to Trails project which involves utilizing abandoned rails and transforming them into a hiking and biking area.

She noted that the area from Palmetto Point to Challengers will be used as the demonstration zone, stating that the targeted groups are tourists and visitors, as well as locals. It is the ministry’s hope for persons in the community to build some form of business around the trail, thus creating jobs for more locals.

“That way, persons who venture the trail would be able to not only visit within the trails but also explore the neighbouring communities and see what they have to offer,” said the community tourism officer. [They can] “Visit the historical and cultural areas and have a taste of the local dishes.

The aim of community tourism in the Federation is to establish new relationships between tourists and communities, enhance local community participation in tourism, increase the direct benefits derived from tourism by locals to develop more enriching, engaging and educational experiences, and to expand the tourism product to attract different market profiles.