“We are excited about the prospects of working with the churches in building out this very important area of tourism and it is going to have more than just the value of bringing visitors here and providing greater earnings for the country,” Jamaica Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said.
He was speaking to members of the media Friday night at the 43rd synod of the worldwide Moravian Church hosted at the Hilton Rose Hall in St James.
He said that faith-based tourism is one of the fastest growing areas in the sector and as such has been an area that the Ministry of Tourism has been looking at seriously over the past years.
“The policy in relation to it (faith-based tourism) is now in the process of being built out. That policy is going to inform how we are going to build the infrastructure to enable a larger group of Christians and/or religious visitors to come to our country and we will build a framework that relates to the experiences that we offer,” Bartlett argued.
“Certainly our churches have over the years been at the base of faith-based activities, but the churches have not been structured and organised to encourage large visits and pilgrimages; they have not been structured neither to bring large conventions into Jamaica.”
Bartlett added that the Montego Bay Convention Centre is going to be positioned to be able to respond to the call for its usage for large conventions and medium-sized conventions.
“The last time that we had a flow of Christians in any meaningful way was in 2011 when the Cruise with a Cause came to Jamaica and brought 3,000 tourists and they were disbursed across western Jamaica at schools and hospitals. They volunteered and brought great joy and much care to a number of citizens in Jamaica,” Bartlett said.
According to Paul Gardner, president of the Moravian Church of Jamaica and the Caribbean Islands, representatives from more than 35 countries are in the island for the celebration of the 43rd synod, which commenced on August 12 and ends August 19.
“… We are deliberating the issues of the church and making decisions concerning the governance of the church for the next seven years,” Gardner said.