A Hidden Gem: August Town Tour Comes to Life!
After having a productive meeting with the Ministry of Tourism and its affiliate companies, four (4) representatives from the Tourism Product Development Company visited August Town on Tuesday August 9, 2016 to review the proposed tour route. Several suggestions were made on how to enhance the tour experience. These suggestions were incorporated into the development of the August Town Tour.
In order to have a high quality tour experience, eight community residents were chosen and trained on August 18 and 19 by Mr O’Neil Thomas who is an Executive Training Manager– Agency for International Development and Empowerment (Jamaica) and has been working in this field for over ten (10) Years.
Some of the areas taught by Mr Thomas included:
- Tour Preparation and Planning;
- Tour Guide soft skills;
- Public Speaking ;
- Handling Complaints;
- Managing group behaviour.
The sessions were very interactive allowed participants to have a hands on approach to tour guiding. Participants were receptive to the material and at the end of the sessions received certificates of participation.
The Tour App
The aim of the mobile application is to boost community tourism in the August Town community as the traditional tourism industry is changing. The app was launched simultaneously with the August Town Tour on August 31, 2016. The tour was a soft launch and was only be available to the University of the West Indies community, however it will be made available to the public at a later date.
The app is available in the Google play store under the name A town Virtual Tour .
You can go directly to the App on PlayStore here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.artuvic.atownvirtualcompanion
The App has 3 screens: Map / Tour / Virtual. On the Map screen, the Anchor attractions for the August Town Tour are highlighted and you can click the markers to see a description and some images. While on the Tour, click the red "Follow me" button and the App will follow the participant during the Tour, information on POints-of-interest will popup when within proximity. On the Tour screen, scheduled tours are shown. Selecting a tour will allow the user to ‘Register’, view the tour route, view information about the specific tour guide, and in the future will be enabled to rate the tour or the tour guide. The Virtual screen provides a google-earth virtual, narrated tour of August Town.
The actual tour began at the Source where the stage was set by our exciting tour guides in order to create a great atmosphere for our participants.
It then moved on to Judgement Yard - home of Reggae recording artiste Sizzla Kalonji
Followed by the Bedward church ruins..
The August Town Tour ended at the Artisans village where participants could purchase food and craft items produced by community members. The items included:
The Member of Parliament and State Minister of Finance Mrs. Fayval Williams, Ambassador of Argentina and Richard Brown, Sizzla Youth standing inside the Ruins of the Bedward Church
The Member of Parliament and State Minister of Finance Mrs. Fayval Williams, Ambassador of Argentina, representative of UKAID, Dr. Michelle McLeod, MSBM, Richard Brown, Sizzla Youth Foundation and other participants on the tour.
The tour highlights opportunities for community tourism in August Town which includes economic activity stimulating employment and business creation. In response to the changing tourism landscape, community-based tourism seems to be a viable option. An August Town Tour committee will be established and they will be in charge of the tour in the very near future.
The community of August Town has embraced the sustainable community development potential of interactive community mapping and has witnessed first-hand the fruits of the initiative. Community members have been empowered and challenged to create other sustainable opportunities and to partner with as many external stakeholders as possible to create employment and training opportunities for themselves.
It is the hope of the researchers, that the results from this pilot project will be able to create a replicable model to be utilized by other communities across Jamaica and bring to the forefront the importance of using technology to archive and display historical, natural and economic resources located in the various communities across Jamaica. As many of our resources are of great interest tourists and locals alike. The interaction between tourists and the community is expected to create sustainable employment opportunities due to increased economic activities happening among the smaller players in the tourism industry.