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Passion for tourism

This week I was privileged to participate as a judge in the Annual Speech Competition hosted by the Ministry of Tourism. The competition is open to students between the ages of 14 and 17 attending private and public educational institutions. This year, 20 students from 12 secondary schools across the island took part in the competition.

Let me say that this was a most wonderful experience. Sitting and listening to our young people as they delivered their point-of-views on tourism brought joy to my heart. For a long time, I have been calling for more tourism education at the primary and secondary school level and I still believe that there is much more that we can do.

Deciding on which student to place where was not the easiest task and they all came fully prepared to get across their points. These students seemed well rehearsed and obviously put a lot of effort into researching the areas under consideration for the competition.

The two major areas with which the students dealt were sports tourism and the use of social media in promoting and marketing Barbados. I am acutely aware that persons in our society are still not sold on the use of social media. Additionally, there are some relatively legitimate reasons for having this position. After all, not everyone uses social media for positive results.

I believe however, that the positives from using social media far outweigh the negatives. Already there are millions of people using social media, but let us look at the world’s population in another 10 to 15 years and see how social media will expand over that timeframe.

This is very similar to how the use of the Internet has developed over the last 20 years. In the early 1990s, using the Internet created much suspicion. Today, everyone everywhere uses the Internet as a primary source of communication. I suggest that if we are to keep up with the competition and the shifting way in which business will be conducted, we need to put aside our fears and embrace the change.

The passion with which these students spoke about how we can benefit from sports tourism was also music to my ears. I have long been an advocate of tapping into the sports tourism market as a way of improving our tourism performance. I believe that these students got it right and they have a good understanding of the benefits that can be derived from this tourism model.

In terms of what we can do to further utilise the youth of our country in this area of tourism, I believe that the students who participated in the competition should be used within their own schools to influence the thinking of their fellow students and schools. Students and schools that were not involved can also benefit from listening to these very explosive young people. We need more students like these.

* Tourism is our business, let’s play our part.

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