Tourism ministers in the making grabbed center stage at the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s industry conference in Martinique last month.
What they had to say could well be fodder for tourism policies in the not-too-distant future.
A total of 14 students from CTO member countries participated in the CTO Youth Congress this year. They were required to address one of two topics relevant to tourism in the Caribbean: “Multigenerational Travel” or “Agrotourism: There’s More to It Than Visiting Farms.”
The next challenge required fast thinking on a mystery topic (they had one minute to come up with an answer): “Share one thing you would like to achieve as a junior minister of tourism and why achieving or experiencing this would be important to you.”
Neila Jones, 16, a student at the Gingerland Secondary School on Nevis, took top honors.
She chose the agrotourism topic and presented some terrific ideas, including a plan to establish farm-bungalow lodgings, complemented by activities such as farm tours, donkey cart rides and folk stories around campfires.
“Agrotourism is important because it helps the island and benefits both visitors and island residents,” Jones said.
As junior minister, Jones said she would work closely with her peers to encourage them to get involved in tourism.
She has no immediate plans to become Nevis’ minister of tourism, although she said she would welcome the opportunity if it came her way.
Taking second place was Renita Shimauth of St. Joseph Convent in St. Lucia, while Annick Bedford of St. Kitts took the third spot.
Other ideas included a model farm in St. Lucia where honeymooners would write their vows in shredded farm vegetables to rum shop tourism in Barbados, where there are more than 150 rum shops.
The winners took home a iPad Mini (first place), a Kindle Fire (second place) and a Nook (third place).
Next year’s CTO State of the Industry Conference is set for St. Thomas.