KINGSTON, Jamaica - Local software developer Travis Rhooms, is on a mission to get more Jamaicans to explore and experience various attractions across the island, describing that desire as the major motivation behind his Island Destinations application.
Rhooms, who launched his Island Destinations app in the COVID-19 pandemic, says growing up in St Catherine, he longed to explore the nooks and crannies of Jamaica and was surprised to learn that many of the adults around him had never left the parish.
“I am an adventure person, but my parents were very traditional. Outside of the occasional visit to the beach every now and again, we never left our parish. As I grew up and interacted more with others, I realised a large majority of persons had never left the parish,” Rhooms said.
“I’ve always wondered why a lot of people don’t leave their immediate environment, and I came to the realisation that most people are often unaware; so much so that they don’t even know of the hidden gems within their own parish,” Rhooms added.
According to Rhooms, with the popularisation of social media, there is more awareness of local attractions.
However, he notes it is often tourists and international celebs who are seen enjoying these spots and this is a trend he hopes to reverse.
“I love that tourists and others get to experience Jamaica and really enjoy it – I have nothing against that. But I also want that same experience for the average Joe or better yet Mas Tom,” Rhooms said.
Rhooms identified the lack of awareness and limited information about these hidden gems as among the major reasons why Jamaicans are quicker to hop on a plane to Disneyland than head to St Elizabeth.
“Let’s face it we know way more about places like Disneyland and Six Flags than we do about places in Jamaica. That’s in part due to large marketing budgets and just the fact that there is more information about these places,” Rhooms stated.
“No one wants to go in search of a place and potentially not find it and waste their time. There is no map as to how to get to this or that place; you really have to know someone who has already been- and that’s the major problem with most Jamaican attractions, you’ve got to rely on word of mouth.”
Rhooms shared that his app which is available in both the Google Play store and Apple’s App store, solves the problem of limited information, as it provides detailed information about the attraction including pictures, driving directions, opening hours, entry fees if they exist and even nearby dining options.
“The app is free to download and there are plenty of places featured that are sure to excite, especially if you are an adventure junkie like me,” Rhooms said.
“I really want people to know that you don’t have to leave Jamaica to have a great experience. There is so much to do and experience right here. Whether you are a foodie, a camper, an artiste who wants to sip and paint in a bush, or maybe you want to have a guided psychedelic tour - there is something right here in Jamaica for you.”
Recently, Rhooms expanded the app to include other services which make visiting attractions easier, like the ability to check for bus trips, as well as information about local tour guides.
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