(Microsoft Clip Art)

"Barbados is small, but so are diamonds" was just one of the ways St. Winifred’s School student, Nicholas Hayward described his island home while presenting his winning essay this morning, at an awards ceremony for participants in the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Children’s Essay Competition.

The ceremony, which took place at the Ministry of Tourism’s office at Two Mile Hill, St. Michael, also saw Senior Division Winner, Kayla McClean of Combermere School deliver her winning piece before an audience of participants and proud parents.

This year’s essay topic, What does sustainable tourism mean to your destination?, was deemed timely by Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, who observed that the competition "…gives teachers a chance to have their charges put pen to paper and express their feelings on this very important industry…One of the Ministry’s main goals is to embed, in the mind of all Barbadians, the importance of tourism."

Minister Sealy noted that the theme’s focus on sustainability was "… a direct reflection of a major challenge facing the tourism industry", in Barbados and the region.?? He asserted that competitions such as these and the recently launched Schools’ Tourism Education Programme with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, would result in the desired level of immersion necessary to foster understanding about the sector.

"The value of this competition is the fact that we are exposing our population at an early age to critical issues affecting the sector.?? This is important because we know people in Barbados still see themselves far removed from the tourism sector…it cannot be a case of tourism simply being about hoteliers and restaurateurs, it’s about all of us; and that theme…tourism is our business, let’s play our part’ is as relevant today as it was then and will be 20, 30 years from now.?? And so this competition…is important if we are to change those long held perceptions," the Tourism Minister affirmed.??

The ways in which all Barbadians contribute to tourism was dramatised by members of Double Laugh Theatre Productions, who illustrated that what we do – from setting an example by not littering, to being engaging with those who visit our shores – affects tourists, and by extension, the industry.

In her report on this year’s competition, Tourism Development Officer, Sharon Trotman, revealed that the judges were quite impressed with the contributions in both divisions.??

Although the entries from Barbados did not place in the regional phase of the FCCA Children’s Essay Competition and the number of national submissions was lower than in previous years, she told those in attendance that the Ministry would continue to encourage participation in the worthwhile exercise.

Participants in the Junior Division were Niamke Branche, Luther Thorne Primary School; Tayeshanna Alexander, West Terrace Primary School; Gabriel Leonce, Foundation Secondary School; Krystle Hoyte, Combermere School; and Samantha Little and Kobi Talma, St. Winifred’s School.?? In the Senior Division were Kezia Forde, Combermere School; Kashawn Wood, Queen’s College; Dylan Burke, Harrison College; and Samantha Edward, St. Michael’s School.

The FCCA has hosted the event since 1995, in an effort to increase understanding about the cruise industry and foster relationships with its partner destinations.


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