Sustainable Tourism Planning for Bluefields Bay

The south coast of Jamaica is relatively undeveloped for large-scale tourism in comparison to the many “all-inclusive” resorts and golf courses found along the north coast including Negril, Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios. So far, the lack of regional planning efforts to push for a more intensive tourism economy has allowed the towns along the south coast the chance to plan their own future based on community-level decision making. Several towns are aiming toward geotourism opportunities which focus on more environmental-friendly and sustainable economic programs that are also tied to broader based social goals such as education and environmental conservation. This is the right time to plan and implement geotourism strategies along the south coast of Jamaica.

The specific objectives of the project are:

  1. Assess distribution and quality of water resources in the Bluefields area including rivers, springs, ground water, wetlands, and ponds by using field observations, maps, available data, and interviews with agencies and local residents;
  2. Use geospatial data analysis and mapping technologies to classify land use trends, shoreline conditions, erosion rates, and coral reef health. Land disturbance and pollution sources points in the area will be located and evaluated based on severity and influence on tourism plans; and
  3. Perform a tourism development assessment for the Bluefields Bay area based on field observations, student field studies, and discussions with local tourism vendors, resort owners, government agencies, residents, and personal observations.

The study area includes the coastal communities along the Bluefields Bay marine protected area which includes the villages of Cave, Bluefields, and Belmont located between the larger towns of Savanna La Mar and Whitehouse. Bluefields Bay was designated as a no-fishing zone in 2009 and is the largest fish sanctuary (among 13) in Jamaica. The communities of Bluefields Bay have begun to come together and support new plans for community development and tourism. However, they lack to ability to adequately evaluate the natural resource base and its threats and to apply that knowledge to produce an effective economic development plan. They require assistance and technical support to move forward with these plans such as that described in this proposal. Dr. Pavlowsky, Dr. Iantria, and several students from Missouri State University have been working with community groups in the Bluefields Bay community to address water pollution problems and develop geo-tourism opportunities related to clean water and a healthy natural environment including the Bluefields People’s Community Association and Bluefields Bay Fishermen’s Friendly Society.

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