Wednesday, 14 May 2014

New areas of study a step in the right direction

The region’s foremost tourism body is commending the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) for the introduction of five new subjects, among them Tourism, at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) level.

At the recent launch of the subjects which CXC have dubbed the new-generation subjects, Bonita Morgan, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s Director of Resource Mobilisation and Development, contended that these new areas of study help address specific needs in our societies or areas where knowledge and skills should be developed.

“We at the CTO are really one of the major advocate behind the Tourism subject being launched here today, having had discussions with Ministers of Education, Ministers of Tourism, Chief Education Officers, the Caribbean Examinations Council, etc., over many, many years to try to convince them of the need to introduce tourism as a subject within our school system. Some countries in the region have gone this route already without waiting for the education directorate to sanction anything,” she said.

Among those countries, Morgan noted, are the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and St. Martin and St. Barths.

She added that the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) has also gone the route of developing specific tourism education materials for primary and secondary schools, which some countries are using to buttress their own tourism education and awareness programmes.

Career awareness

The Director of Resource Mobilisation and Development contends that building career awareness is important for the tourism sector, and the introduction of the tourism subject into Caribbean schools is one of the building blocks in the development of the human resources needed to sustain the tourism industry.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of the Caribbean at this time in our existence, and will continue to be an important economic sector for our region for some time to come. We have been saying for the longest while that one in every four persons in the region either works directly or indirectly with the tourism sector.

“Tourism is labour intensive, which is a good thing for our small economies, and we need to attract persons to work in the sector… It is a reality of our economies, and we should, at minimum, prepare our young people to understand something about the scope and workings of the sector, so that they can make intelligent choices when they begin their own career planning and forging their own career path,” she said.

Moreover, Morgan is suggesting that by introducing tourism in the school system, countries are able to positively influence public attitudes and awareness to tourism and, by extension, tourists.

Her comments came as she contended that Caribbean countries need to do a better job at educating local populations about the role that tourism plays in their economies and to their individual well being.

She stated these benefits include the creation of jobs, the earning of foreign exchange, attracting local and foreign investment, and the creation of goods and services used by the sector. All these, she stated, help to create a better quality of life for the region. (JRT)

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