Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, and school principal, Yvette Greenidge, visit each of the six groups featured in the ‘Tourism is Our Business: We’re Playing our Part’ project at St. Giles’ Nursery School. (N. Hutchinson/BGIS)

"Blown away" was the term used by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy to describe his impression of the St. Giles’ Nursery School project Tourism is Our Business: We’re Playing Our Part.

Mr. Sealy, along with Education Minister Ronald Jones and representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Education, attended a ceremony to launch the project today and were treated to a morning filled with tourism – focused presentations and displays by the three and four-year-olds at the school.

"I have looked at the outline of the project and I am thoroughly impressed by the range of concepts that are being used to broaden the children’s appreciation for tourism and its importance to the economy," Minister Sealy noted, while adding that he was "particularly pleased that your project has a practical approach, and in this regard, I refer to the tours of a number of hotels that are planned…," he said.?? The Tourism Minister observed that this was a sure sign that the future of the industry was in "good hands".

Noting that the St. Giles’ Nursery School project was complementary to the Ministry’s own Tourism Education Awareness and Me (T.E.A.M.) programme and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association’s Schools Tourism Education Programme (STEP), Mr. Sealy stressed that sensitisation was still necessary.?? He noted that Barbadians continued to be the main attraction for those visiting the island, and, therefore an appreciation for the industry’s contribution was crucial for all ages.??

"Some adults don’t fully appreciate the critical role that the industry plays in contributing to the quality of life enjoyed by our citizens; and, therefore, the Barbados Tourism Authority, jointly with the Ministry of Tourism, is embarking on another public awareness campaign, [to] explain the importance of tourism…and we look forward to launching that soon," Minister Sealy revealed.??

Underscoring the relevance of a project which catered to the very young citizens among us, he pointed out that "we sometimes get bogged down with the so-called ???big issues’, when the truth is, it is the simple things, like investing in our young people, and giving them a greater appreciation for the sector and how to treat our visitors [that matter]…We can’t control what will happen in the boardroom at American Airlines or British Airways but we can control what happens [here]; and this is a tremendous project, from that point of view," he said.

Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, also offered his support to the endeavour: "I think the effort is very good…I know that the teachers would have had a major input.?? Teachers lead and children follow and they… mesh in this exercise…You need the full support and cooperation of teachers…," Mr. Jones noted, adding that the cooperation of parents and teachers would ultimately lead to the project’s success.

The Tourism is Our Business: We’re Playing Our Part project aims to build tourism awareness from an early age and introduce the children to the concept of who tourists are, where they come from, why they visit Barbados, what they do when they visit and the impact they have on the economy.

The students were all assigned to class groups with specific names chosen by the teachers and inspired by local attractions, namely: the Stately Stalagmites of Harrison’s Cave; the Hearty Horses of the Historic Garrison; the Lofty Lions of Gun Hill; the Merry Marlins of Oistins; the Fantastic Flamingoes of Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary; and the Beautiful Bougainvilleas of the Andromeda Gardens.

The students will tour six hotels around the island, including the Accra Beach Hotel and the Sandy Lane Resort, and will also participate in scenic rides and educational visits from tourism industry personnel.


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