Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, poses with the prize winners of the local and regional levels of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Children’s Essay Contest. From left to right are Ethan Alleyne, Christian Alleyne, Jenevonne Kirton and Machel Maynard.

All Barbadians must be made aware of the importance of the tourism industry.

This was stressed today by Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, as he addressed an awards ceremony, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, for students who participated in the 2009 Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Children’s Essay Contest.

Acknowledging that awareness was one of the goals of his Ministry, Mr. Sealy said: "The Ministry has therefore always had a vigourous awareness programme where it seeks to involve children from a young age and encourage them to enter competitions both at the local and regional levels."

The Minister noted that Barbados always had a very successful record with these competitions from as far as 1995, when the FCCA Essay contest was initiated. It saw Barbados winning the first Regional title, when Jason Francis, then a student of the St. Silas Primary, and now President of the Barbados Youth Development Council, won with an essay entitled "What Cruise Tourism Means to My Country".

Reflecting on the island’s achievements, Mr. Sealy observed, "Such successes give us a clear indication of our children’s understanding of the tourism industry and their ability to articulate their thoughts and their ideas, whether … expressed through their posters, essays or photographs in different competitions. Our children demonstrate that they understand what the tourism industry is all about and the standard of living we all enjoy."

He added: "Some of these children put some very credible solutions to the challenges that we face in tourism and as a nation. It is particularly gratifying that some of the initiatives that you are pushing today, the children of the future seem to recognise and there will be some continuity."

Using an excerpt from Barbados’ top essay, written by Christian Alleyne, the Tourism Minister remarked: "So, for example, when Christian speaks to ???the need to develop more tasty treats for our tourists’ he is really speaking to culinary tourism that we are trying to develop and the food festival that we are working on."

Meanwhile, Tourism Development Officer, Marsha Armstrong, in her overview of the competition, said there was a tremendous response by Barbadian students to this year’s contest, with some 60 entries received from over 25 schools across the island.

While stating that there were only 16 entries last year, she said: "over the years, the competition had received a low response from the schools which was partially attributed to the time of the year when students were preparing for CXC and internal schools examination.

This year’s topic was: "During this global economic downturn, what can a destination which lives on tourism do to persuade more ships to come to their destination?"?? Nine-year old Christian Alleyne copped third place for Barbados in the Junior Division at the regional level,?? and topped the Junior Division at the local level of the competition.

He received a cash scholarship award in the amount of US$1000, and a cheque in the same amount for his school (Soteria Home School).

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