Minister of Tourism, Kerrie Symmonds presents Barbados’ new Junior Minister of Tourism, Hailey Mahy of The Ursuline Convent with her trophy at the 2019 Tourism Youth Congress at Sandals Royal Barbados. (BTMI)

Hailey Mahy of the Ursuline Convent is Barbados’ new Junior Minister of Tourism.

The 14-year-old won the prestigious title when she competed against students from six other secondary schools in the 2019 Tourism Youth Congress, which took place at Sandals Royal Barbados, recently.

Hailey will go on to represent Barbados at the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s regional annual Youth Congress in October, where students from around the region, aged 14 to 17, will discuss tourism-related matters in a simulated “Board Meeting” competition.

During the local competition, Hailey presented on the topic Making Excellence a Habit in Caribbean Tourism.  She called for youth integration and inclusivity within the tourism industry.

“We have some gems in our generation that have a great plan for our future….

“I am trying to make my scope wider as to increase the level of excellence in the tourism sector to include all businesses, small and large, to get us all to the same level, and to make excellence a habit in tourism throughout the Caribbean, starting in Barbados,” the new junior minister asserted.

During the competition, each student presented on one of the following topics: Towards Smart Travel Experiences within the Caribbean Region, Equipping our Youth to Thrive in a Changing Tourism Environment, and Making Excellence a Habit in Caribbean Tourism.

A flare of suspense was added when students were asked to present for one minute on the mystery question: As Junior Minister of Tourism, recommend two ways in which we can encourage community tourism across our island.

Second place awardee, Jermessa Khan, of The Ellerslie School, suggested: “One way we can help encourage community tourism is to educate the upcoming generation about the current products and activities on the island.  Make everyone feel included; make them feel like tourism is ours – I am tourism; you are tourism; we are tourism.  This is what needs to be enforced.”

Third place went to Modena Byer-Fraser from the Ursuline Convent.  The other participants were Ashanti Jaunai from Alexandra School, Soraya Headley of the Deighton Griffith School, Hannah Sealey from The St. Michael School, and the lone male, Noah Fagan, of Lester Vaughan School.

Students presented to the Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds; Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, Donna Cadogan; tourism partners; the judging panel; teachers and students.

Outgoing Junior Minister of Tourism, Dylan Ramdin, agreed with Hailey’s call for increase youth inclusion in the tourism sector.

“For a long time in recent history, a lot of young people were moving into entrepreneurship and business and technology without paying attention to the tourism sector.  I think with new things coming into the tourism sector and developing it more, a lot of young people are recognizing how valuable it is,” he said.

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