Jamaica’s Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) Contributes $25 Million to Community Development Initiative Over Five Years

Kingston, Jamaica – The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) of Jamaica has over the past five years contributed a total of $25 million for sectional and national prizes to the National BEST Community Competition and Programme. Of this amount $5.5 million was provided for the 2011 – 2012 staging of the competition.

Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill explained that “TEF saw it fit to become involved in the programme as its aim is in keeping with the entity’s mandate as a funding agency which is to assist in the implementation of programmes that enhance the growth and development of the tourism sector. The development of communities, many of which are involved in community based tourism, is viewed as essential to the betterment of citizens and the nation as a whole.”

The annual National BEST Community Competition and Programme’s 5th annual awards ceremony was held yesterday and many hopeful representatives from communities across Jamaica turned out in their numbers to see who would take top prizes in the various categories.

TEF’s Investments and Accounts Manager, Diane Brown-Allen, who spoke at the awards ceremony, underscored the relevance of TEF’s sponsorship. She said “TEF values local environmental management, promotion of Jamaica’s heritage and culture, and a spirit of ownership which will only be sustainable through the type of local partnerships and participation fostered by the BEST Community Competition and Programme.”

Among the categories for which TEF provided prizes this year are; Best Visitor Experience, Best Community Spirit and Self Reliance, Most Beautiful Community, Best Kept Community Facilities, and Most Improved Agricultural Practices.

The competition’s top prize of $2 million for the Best Community in Jamaica went to the Treasure Beach community. Chairman of the St. Elizabeth Parish Development Committee, Jason Henzell who accepted the award on behalf of the community, said, “I am thankful for programmes such as the National BEST Community Competition and Programme which give communities such as mine the opportunity to further develop ourselves, encouraging greater community tourism and raising the standard of living of those who dwell there.”

The programme is aimed at encouraging local governance and sustainable community development through relevant projects and self help activities. It seeks to establish partnerships between communities and private and public sector players, such as TEF, which have strong technical, professional, spiritual, educational and financial capabilities.

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