Charlestown, Nevis – Past and present winners of the Junior Minister Tourism Youth Congress competition met together on Wednesday to discuss their plans for the future of tourism in Nevis. The junior ministers spoke on a wide range of topics, including sustainable tourism tactics, cruise lines and the importance of keeping Nevis natural.

The speeches were followed by a roundtable discussion with the current minister of tourism, the Honorable Mark Brantley. After the discussions, the junior ministers opened themselves up to the Observer and explained the importance of tourism in their lives, as well as its value to Nevis.

“Being an ambassador for so many years, it has crafted me into somebody who can go and speak on tourism,” said Clayticia Daniels, Nevis’ Junior Tourism Minister 2011. “There [are] so many people who don’t know about Nevis, so I love to educate them about my island, tell them about all the places they can go and all the fun things they can do.”

The unique opportunity to be able to represent the island these students were born and raised in on a regional level at such a young age has allowed these junior ministers to hone their messages and understand the roles youth play in the tourism industry on Nevis.

“I think youth’s are involved a lot in tourism, but they just don’t know,” said Rol’J Williams, Nevis’ Junior Tourism Minister 2014. “Even schoolchildren walking home, smiling and waving at tourists –  that helps with our tourism products and that’s what a lot of the tourists take back with them.”

The junior ministers explained how tourism can be viewed as the backbone of many aspects of the economy in Nevis, and how educating the next generation of Nevisians about the different aspects of tourism will help expand the “Nevis Naturally” ideals. Something as simple as making visitors feel welcome on the island can go a long way toward strengthening Nevis’ draw to tourists.

“Allowing people to understand the impact they’re actually making on the industry, and when people realize the how significant the little things they can do, it will entirely change our mindset and our perception,” said Nelia Jones, Nevis’ Junior Tourism Minister 2013. “A part of the tourism brand is the people. Gradually we are getting there, and the Nevis tourism product will become more familiar to the youths.”

The tourism industry in Nevis is fueled by the people here, and as important as the natural beauties surrounding this island are, the smiles and friendly welcomes by Nevisians are what tourists take home with them, the junior ministers explained. Programs such as the Junior Tourism Youth Congress will allow future youths to understand the intricacies of Nevis’ high quality tourism product.