The tourism sector has a new junior minister. She is Kezia Forde, who was declared the winner of the Ministry of Tourism’s Annual Speech Competition 2013, which also conferred in her the junior minister title.
The competition, which was held this morning at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, featured 21 participants from 12 schools, the largest cohort in the history of the event.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Shelly Carrington, explained that the competition, which offered students the opportunity to speak on either sports tourism or the use of social media in marketing Barbados, was crucial to developing the connection between tourism and youth.
Carrington said that “sports tourism is one of the industry’s fastest growing segments with the potential to drive higher volumes of visitors and room nights … [while] social media has become one of the most attractive and cost effective platforms to promote brands and stay competitive in the market”.
Addressing the latter issue, Forde, a student of Combermere School, described social media as “a key pillar on which Barbados could build its product” and suggested “a project advertising a total destination experience for office professionals through the use of two social media networks, travelpod.com and linkdedIn.com.
“These sites allow us to have our repeat visitors, who are also office professionals, to update blogs about their experiences,” she said, adding that this resulted in visitors becoming “brand ambassadors”. In addition to her title, Forde won an all-inclusive, three-day stay at Sea Breeze Hotel, $500, a trophy and a three-week internship.
Sports tourism was the theme addressed by second place winner Nia Marshall, of Queen’s College. She suggested that “the key to the branding and marketing will be structuring a fit between indigenous sports, Barbados’ reputation in international business and guaranteeing an island experience”, with draughts, road tennis, bodybuilding and fitness competitions and a stick-fighting exhibition during Crop-Over as featured events.
Her presentation earned her a staycation for two the Courtyard Marriott, a trophy, $300 and a three-week internship; while third place winner, Bryan Blackman of Harrison College, was awarded a staycation for two at Divi Southwinds, a trophy, $250 and a three-week internship for his presentation marketing Barbados through social media. He suggested that engaging celebrities who had a significant following on social media, such as Wayne Rooney and Simon Cowell, to promote the island could augur well for the country.
The Speech Competition has been a component of the Tourism Education Awareness and Me programmes since 2000 and targets public and private secondary school students across the island.