KINGSTON, Jamaica – The rich history, culture and cuisine of Jamaica’s Blue Mountain region were on full display, as the Gastronomy Network of the Jamaica Ministry of Tourism hosted the soft launch of the Blue Mountain Culinary Tour on Sunday March 26, 2017.
The Jamaica Blue Mountain Tour will be one of the first projects of the Gastronomy Network, which was created with the intention to foster the growth of culinary tourism as a product niche for Jamaica.
The tour currently features 15 participating eateries and attractions such as Café Blue, The Gap Café, RafJam Bed and Breakfast and Old Tavern Coffee Estate – with more expected to come on board before the trail officially begins later this year.
Speaking at the launch ceremony at Belcour Lodge in Irish Town, Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett indicated that the concept was designed to not only highlight the gastronomic product in the region, but to also directly benefit community members and tour operators who conduct business within the area.
“We are trying to bring the wealth of tourism into the communities that are in the Blue Mountain Area. The concept is a low density, low impact, soft tourism which drives a different type of demographic. It will bring a mixture of nature and creativity with additional efforts on our parts to include a little bit of hard infrastructure work, because we have to do the tours along nice roadways,” said Minister Bartlett.
Much to the delight of culinary aficionados the tour will feature unique eateries, from both the Eastern and Western end of the world-renowned Blue Mountain Range, with tours highlighting coffee farm experiences, traditional local cuisine, and Jamaican fusion cuisine.
Chairman of the Gastronomy Network, Nicola Madden-Grieg, also shared that the network has informed tour operators that the tour is customizable.
“Tour guides have the option to combine the culinary experiences with stops at places such as New Castle, Heritage Gardens, and Holywell. Individuals as well as tour operators may also choose to have their own itineraries including stops at area bars and food stalls,” said Madden-Grieg.
During the soft launch of the Jamaica Blue Mountain Culinary Tour, the Ministry also disclosed that the Gastronomy Network will also be hosting the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival in March 2018.
The three-day event, which is in the preliminary planning stages, will take place in the Blue Mountain region featuring activities such as training and development seminars for coffee farmers; coffee farm and factory tours; culinary tours and experiences; and a coffee exhibition. International coffee buyers will also be invited to attend the festival.
Minister Bartlett shared that the strategic focus on Gastronomy in Jamaica is not coincidental as it is an important part of his Ministry’s growth agenda. It is also his hope that the project will be so successful that it can be used as a prototype for the member states of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
“We are launching today this coffee tour but we are going beyond that because I want to build a coffee experience that will become part of the gastronomy prototype of the UNWTO. So that we will be able to bring thousands of visitors annually to destination Jamaica to experience the gastronomy prototypes as we utilize various elements of it that are endemic to different geographic areas,” said Minister Bartlett.
The soft launch included stops to Belcour Lodge, Craighton Estates, Strawberry Hill and Café Blue. Guests, who included tourism officials, local tour guides and members of the media, got a sample of what to expect on the culinary tour – with history and sampling of the gastronomic product in the area being the primary focus of the all-day event.