Basseterre, St. Kitts – Tecoya Warner of the Charles E. Mills Secondary School emerged victorious at this year’s Local Tourism Youth Congress, which was aimed at creating greater awareness among youth about the island’s tourism product, while presenting solutions about how it can be improved.

The now 2017 Junior Tourism Minister, who will go on to represent St. Kitts at the Regional Tourism Youth Congress in October 2017 in Grenada, was passionate about her topic, gave sound points and captured attention, just to name a few, according to the judges.

Treasure Cannonier of the Cayon High School took second place and Sheski Christian of Saddlers Secondary came in third.

Having young people put forth their views on tourism topics and express themselves convincingly on matters of concerns to the country as a tourism destination is vital to the future development of tourism, says the minister of tourism, the Honourable Lindsay Grant.

“Tourism is our future and you, the youth, you are our future,” said the minister, addressing not only the participants, but their classmates as well. Grant said that the competition is an excellent opportunity to gain research skills, increase knowledge and gain confidence in self-expression. He added that it is vital for young people to be aware of the country’s tourism product and he believes that competitions such as the youth congress are equipping young people to prepare to contribute to its future.

The minister congratulated the teachers who prepared the students, saying they are ensuring that the youth recognise that they form an intrinsic part of this industry. “Kudos to you because without you, the students would not have excelled,” he said.

Grant said that in all endeavours, it is recognised that the youth are critical to a sustainable, vibrant, dynamic tourism industry.

“You are the catalyst for change and so we rely on you to bring about the transformation needed to energise our people and our countries into becoming leaders,” he said. “[We encourage you to] share and discuss ideas of the future of tourism. We hope that you would take the mantle to lead the way to a more robust future.”

Topics discussed included during the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development included the following: Tourism Contribution to Building a Better Way; Signature Tourism Products: Strengthening the Image of Your Destination and Adventure Tourism; and Cultural and Natural Discovery through physically active and exciting activities.

This year’s Local Tourism Youth Congress was sponsored by the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank and Christophe Harbour.

The regional competition will be held during the State of Industries Conference in October 2017 in Grenada.

The Tourism Youth Congress is a part of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Youth Awareness Programme, which is a regional activity involving students aged 14-17. Students who participate in the congress benefit from the exposure to the three Es of tourism, which are excitement, education and entertainment. They gain greater awareness of tourism within their country and beyond and are able to participate in the tourism conference, experience the tourism product of another country, and gain new friends from across the region.