The 36 students from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, St Kitts, and Nevis, and Grenada were instructed to create their own niches in the tourism market at the launch of Project Discovery’s tenth annual conference, Caribbean Youth Forum on Environment and Development (CARYFED).
The forum which runs until July 24, is themed Sustainable Tourism and the Blue Economy. It seeks to explore the impact of tourism, the environment, and socio-cultural activities on the advancement of the blue economy in Caribbean territories. Students from the ages 16 to 25 will participate.
Speaking at the launch of the two-week forum at the University of West Indies Cave Hill campus, Terry Vanderpoole-Fox, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) manager of innovation and strategy, reminded CARYFED participants that the tourism industry was a major “foreign exchange earner” for Caribbean states.
Vanderpoole-Fox indicated that cultural heritage tourism, community tourism, and culinary tourism were the pillars of Barbados’ tourism product. However, she encouraged the students to develop products and services that would “fill the gaps”. Noting the popularity of culinary tourism, she encouraged students to find new, untapped avenues within the sector.
“Look at the areas where there are gaps and where you can start a business, not necessarily get an education to work for someone,” Vanderpoole-Fox emphasized.
Vanderpoole-Fox identified that sustainable tourism should make “optimal use of environmental resources” and help to maintain and conserve the ecological processes, heritage, and biodiversity of a community.
“Sustainable tourism will also maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction and ensure a meaningful experience for tourists, raising their awareness of sustainability issues and promoting sustainable tourism practices around them,” she pinpointed.
Director of Project Discovery Jamarri Gaskin encouraged students to make the most of their CARYFED experience. He stated that they would be further educated on Barbados’ success in sustainable tourism and the blue economy, given that establishing a new ministerial portfolio, the Ministry of Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs, was a landmark move by the Mia Mottley administration.
“The forum is giving the young people an opportunity… to immerse themselves in a culture, get to network with other people in the different Caribbean islands but also be aware of what the other countries are doing. [You will] collaborate with the young minds and talk about the issues and problems that are happening in your country and see if you can find a solution to solve part of the problem,” Gaskin recommended.
The students will participate in courses such as food and beverage management, catering, menu design, marketing, budgeting and finance and more. They will also partake in presentations by experts in tourism and the blue economy. (KK)