Meeting of the minds: Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy (left) and Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the UWI, Sir Hilary Beckles, speaking during this morning’s conference at the UWI’s Cave Hill Campus. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

There is still too much distance between the tourism industry in the region and the academic community.

And, Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, said today that secondary and tertiary institutions needed to move closer to the industry since the region was so heavily dependent on it for economic survival.

Mr. Sealy was, at the time, addressing the sixth annual Tourism Human Resources Conference under the theme: Enhancing Caribbean Tourism Human Resources through Partnerships and Innovation, at the Henry Fraser Lecture Theatre, Faculty of Medical Sciences, at the University of the West Indies (UWI) this morning.

"As we seek to continually develop our human resources, I encourage our training institutions in the region to focus on the introduction of innovative tourism courses and cutting edge developmental techniques. This is critical if we are to successfully compete on the global level," he said.

Mr. Sealy stressed that surveys and polls had indicated that visitors were attracted to Barbados because of its people. "When you hear that over and over again from our tourists, they are, in fact, talking about the human resources that work within the industry principally because they are on the front line interacting with our tourists…," the Minister said.

He added that modern day consumer demands for high quality products and services, memorable, authentic experiences and value for money, required that regional destinations developed and retained professional, highly trained and empowered workforces.

Mr. Sealy stressed that focusing on the human resources component was extremely important, and was still the most valuable part of the region’s product offering.

"These annual human resources conferences mounted by the CTO [Caribbean Tourism Organisation] therefore contribute significantly to improving employee engagement and leadership, and assist in the creation of high performance teams and organisations."????????????????

The three-day conference being hosted by the CTO, the Barbados Community College and the UWI touches on a range of subjects ranging from the importance of collaboration and partnerships, innovation, the need to nurture leadership at all levels of the organisation, embracing diversity for competitiveness and health and wellness.

"These are critical areas representing many of the underpinnings of a strong human resource base for the region’s tourism sector," he noted.

During his welcome address, Mr. Sealy also expressed appreciation for the role played by the UWI in the development of human resources throughout the region.

He noted that UWI graduates, whether in the private or public sector, made important decisions daily and implemented projects and programmes that benefitted their societies.


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