Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 04, 2016 (SKNIS): Since the closure of the sugar industry in 2005, tourism has become the major income earner for St. Kitts and Nevis. Realizing its significance, the Ministry of Tourism has taken the initiative to educate young people on tourism and introduce tourism education in the Federation.
Novelette Morton, Senior Tourism Project Officer, said that tourism education is important especially for youth, while appearing on the Government’s weekly radio and television programme “Working for You” on Wednesday, May 04.
“The Ministry of Tourism feels that it is about time our students from primary school stage are made aware of the importance of tourism, the benefits of tourism [and] what tourism involves,” said Morton. “And so we are embarking on a pilot project come September 2016 with three pilot schools, the Sandy Point Primary; Dr. William Connor Primary; and the Basseterre High School.”
The pilot project is a programme that is aimed at educating the youth about the vital role tourism plays in the lives of nationals. During the 2016 Budget address, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said that the programme was developed “with the objective of further sensitizing students and, by extension, their families to the benefits of the tourism sector.” In addition, he stated that the programme would also be used as “a mechanism to highlight the employment and career opportunities that the sector provided to residents.”
Ms. Morton stated that the ministry is hoping to expand the project to other schools once the pilot phase is completed. She said that it is very important to start with schools because focus must be placed on the youth.
“They are the future employees in the industry,” said the senior tourism project officer, while adding that the youth are the ones who tourists meet on the streets and the ones who will advance the tourism industry. “And so it is very important that we start with our youth. Additionally, we have courses offered at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC), Hospitality and Culinary Arts but there is a break between the primary and the secondary levels and the tertiary level.”
Ms. Morton stated that due to this disconnect, the ministry deemed it extremely important for youth to be made aware of the importance of tourism from a tender age. She said this will be beneficial in the long run because when the time comes for the students to make a career decision it would come natural and be a smooth transition from primary to secondary to tertiary.
In early April, a Tourism Education Planning Meeting was held specifically for principals of the three pilot schools. The meeting was a follow-up to a Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) facilitated workshop for teachers of the schools mentioned above. The workshop was aimed at providing training and sensitization for education officials on what tourism is, as well as how and what it contributes to lives and livelihoods individually and collectively in the Federation. Sustainable methods and practices that the country can employ as a people and as a destination to ensure that the country is prepared to manage this industry and maximize the benefits to be derived from it were also discussed at the workshop.