MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA - Secondary and tertiary level students from across the island received well needed information on the many opportunities available in the tourism sector during an engaging Tourism Awareness Week Youth Forum, held on September 28 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James. Many voiced their support for tourism and have indicated their desire to become more involved in the process of - “Rethinking Tourism,” which is the theme for the week.
The Youth Forum was organised as part of a series of activities to celebrate Tourism Awareness Week (TAW) 2022, which runs from September 25 – October 1. Delegations from some 17 Tourism Action Clubs from schools across the island gathered for the occasion, supported by a number of industry stakeholders for an interactive event in which they held sway in one of three panel discussions, voicing their thoughts on: “The Tourism We Want: Youth Response.”
The very outspoken and insightful panelists included Junior Minister of Tourism, Sanecia Taylor; winner of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Tourism Essay competition, Theondra Hamilton and Secretary of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Tourism Society, Britanie Hanson, with Xavier McFarlane as moderator.
The other panel discussions explored: “Opportunities for Non-Traditional Careers in the Tourist Industry” with Director of the Tourism Linkages Network, Carolyn McDonald-Riley and entrepreneur Ashley Rousseau, moderated by Joel Nomdarkham, and: “New Vision: Adapting to Change while Remaining Authentic” with presentations by Kris DaCosta, Digital Marketing Manager, JTB; Fabian Brown, Director, Internal Organization and Corporate Social Responsibility, Bahia Principe and Tourism Entrepreneur and popular recording artiste, Jeffrey “Agent Sacco” Campbell.
With a number of suggestions being raised by the young people, Executive Director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Dr. Carey Wallace said he was very pleased with the turnout of Tourism Action Clubs. “I was impressed by the brilliance of the answers and their commitment to sustainable tourism,” he said underscoring that it was “important to engage that generation.”
He believes a forum of that nature served to unlock the ideas of the young people and give them greater insights into the numerous traditional and nontraditional opportunities in what has become the world’s leading industry and “can give them a good quality of life.”
Dr. Wallace said: “We believe that we need to have more tourism entrepreneurs coming out from among our own people, as well as more tourism managers, team members, culinary experts as there are so many opportunities.” He felt that the average Jamaican still saw tourism opportunities as a bartender or housekeeper, “not knowing that there are so many more business opportunities that the industry generates.”
His views were supported by Mrs. McDonald-Riley who stressed the need for professionals who are benefitting directly from the tourism sector to share their success stories, so that young persons can be inspired to enter areas that are profitable.
Dr. Wallace added that for an industry generating US$4.2 billion in earnings, “surely there are opportunities or us Jamaicans to be benefitting from it” and the large portion which goes into making overseas purchases, “we believe can be substituted by local products, local services and local talent.” He underscored that TEF’s Linkages Network was working to build out local capacity in these areas “to form bridges between the productive sector and tourism.”