BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -– It is imperative that youth realise that there is a viable career in tourism and that they can play a part in creating a memorable experience for the visitor, according to Ministry of Tourism Community Tourism Officer, Shaline Welcome.
The Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, through its Tourism Awareness Programme, is ensuring that young people learn about various aspects of tourism to solidify the longevity of the industry.
“The Tourism Education Programme is basically to inform children about the tourism industry, the benefits of the tourism industry, and the role that they play as students now,” Welcome said. “It gives them a better understanding of what the industry has to offer, including careers.”
Ms. Welcome said the department visits schools where the students participate in “theory classes, experience classes and practical sessions.”
“In terms of the theory classes, we go into the classrooms and we teach about tourism,” Ms. Welcome explained. “We also have stakeholders who would come to the classrooms and give brief demonstrations as to their jobs and how they also play a role in the tourism industry. We also allow students to experience tourism. We take them out into the tourism industry. So they get a first-hand [knowledge] of the tourism product itself,” she added, discussing the experiential aspects.”
She said the practical sessions include etiquette training.
“Stakeholders who join with us and we teach the children about etiquette, Ms. Welcome said. “They learn how to use knives and forks, good behaviour and good manners when dining out.”
Six schools participate in the programme, which has been upgraded over the past three years. Ms. Welcome mentioned that, initially, there were four schools, but now it has been extended to six.
“There are four primary schools which include Tyrell Williams Primary, Tucker Clarke Primary, Sandy Point Primary, Dr. William Connor Primary and also the Advanced Vocational Education Centre (AVEC) is a part of it. In addition, the Basseterre High School is participating,” Ms. Welcome said.
She explained that the students are excited to learn about tourism.
“The thing about it is that good news travels fast. We would have had two sets of classes before,” Ms. Welcome concluded. “Our first set of students is now in first form. The second set is in grade six. Each time we go to the classes in the beginning of the school term, the students already know what is coming in terms of the classroom sessions, the practical sessions and the hands-on sessions. So we get full participation from not only the students but also the teachers. All anticipate going through the Tourism Education Programme.”