Junior Minister of Tourism, Kezia Forde, was completely ???bowled over??? by the wealth of information emanating from the recently held Caribbean Tourism Organisation???s (CTO) Tourism Youth Congress.

She said the information could be used to improve the tourism product of the participating countries.

She related her experiences at the recently concluded event that was held in Martinique during an interview yesterday with the Barbados Government Information Service.

Ms. Forde said that meeting and listening to the presentations from other Junior Ministers of Tourism about their country???s tourism product, what governments could do to improve the product and how the youth could be included in the tourism process, was ???really interesting???.

???The ideas, feedback and research at the conference were the ???icing on the cake.??? My colleagues study tourism for a living. They study trends, they know what visitors want, they know what they dislike, they know what [visitors] know about and what they really would like to know about but are not getting enough exposure. So, to hear their ideas and suggestions for the Ministers of Tourism, the Commissioners of Tourism and all other tourism entities, was really amazing,??? she underlined.

The Junior Minister said she was also impressed with discussions on source markets that CTO member countries could break into and suggestions on how to keep the product fresh. She further described the information gleaned from the sessions as ???very enlightening???.

???I would advise anybody to get involved in the competition and become a Junior Minister. When you get the opportunity to attend this conference and get so much information and insight into tourism that you can then bring back to your island and share with other young people, who can then turn around and get involved. In that way, you help to make sure that there is a maintenance and sustainability of the tourism product and that young people know how to get into the industry,??? Ms. Forde noted.

While in Martinique, Kezia and other Junior Ministers of Tourism, presented their ideas on Multigenerational Travel and Caribbean Agro Tourism. At the end of the competition, Neila Jones from Nevis, emerged victorious; while Renita Shivnauth of St. Lucia, and Annick Bedford from St. Kitts, copped second and third place, respectively.

Meanwhile, Barbados??? Tourism Development Officer, Marsha Armstrong, said she was extremely proud of Kezia as the island???s Junior Minister of Tourism for 2013. She also praised her for the admirable performance at the regional leg of the competition.

???Since winning the local competition, she has been exposed to many aspects of the industry to build her knowledge in preparation for the competition, [CTO Tourism Youth Congress],??? she added.

The CTO Youth Congress is the brainchild of former CTO Secretary General, Dr. Jean Holder, and is designed to introduce Caribbean students to the fundamental role of tourism in the growth of their countries, and to create strong leadership potential among the youth.

The participating countries in this year???s competition were Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Maarten (Dutch), St. Martin (French), Martinique, Jamaica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Turks and Caicos Islands and the US Virgin Islands.


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