Transportation professionals and other persons are pictured at the gradustion ceremony. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Professionals in the transportation service sector need to be well equipped to better interact with visitors to the island.

So says Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, as he addressed a graduation ceremony for a Passenger Transportation Service Operators’ Training Course at the Barbados Community College (BCC) yesterday.

A collaborative effort between the Ministry of Tourism, the BCC’s Industry Services Unit and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Council, the programme served to enhance the knowledge and skills of taxi and coach drivers.??

Mr. Sealy told the graduates that: "Trade in services, such as transportation, has become a very important aspect of the tourism product…[and] is critical to the success of Barbados’ tourism sector…[According to the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s Visitor Exit Surveys April-June 2010-2011], visitors spent six per cent of their total expenditure on transportation," Minister Sealy revealed.????

Offering congratulations to the graduates, who represented the first two cohorts of the programme, the Tourism Minister said that he looked forward to its growth "and having even more persons participate in this transport service operators course…[This programme signals] the implementation of the training component of the Guidelines for the Operation of Transport Services, which were completed in 2010.?? It [also] signals a new approach that we are taking to taxiing in the tourism sector, and indeed, taxiing generally.

"We can no longer afford to have persons working who simply do not have exposure to what is expected [of them]…" he asserted, stating that their high level of tourist interaction rendered them crucial to the sector, as they operated on the frontline of the industry.

One of the graduates of the programme, Ronelle Rollins, said that the sacrifice of participating in the training initiative "was worth it" and encouraged those in the taxiing fraternity to participate in the next training session.

"I did not know what to expect, but I just felt it would provide [knowledge] that I need as a driver, as a person, that would improve your life skills…I am very happy that I decided to take the class," he added, noting that the programme also taught participants how to keep a positive attitude when interacting with visitors and clients in general. "Tourism is too important to be losing people due to bad attitudes," he stressed.

The presentation ceremony was the culmination of 104 contact hours of eight modules of study, ranging from Tour Guiding Basics and Occupational Safety and Health, to Foreign Language Basics and Effective Communication.?? Additional information on the next training course may be obtained by contacting the Ministry of Tourism at 430-7500.


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