Participants in this year’s Ministry of Tourism Speak Off Competition stand with the owner of Lush Life Nature Resort, Tom Hinds (2nd row, right), outgoing Junior Minister of Tourism Dionne Weekes (2nd row, 2nd??from right)??and former Junior Minister,??Jason Yearwood (3rd row, 2nd from right).?? (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism)

Those students who will participate in the Ministry of Tourism’s Speak Off Competition 2012 were exposed to the topic, which focuses on agro and cultural tourism, when they participated in a tour and related workshop last week.

The Ministry’s Tourism Development Officer, Marsha Armstrong, explained that the students visited the Lush Life Nature Resort, St. Joseph, and St. Nicholas Abbey, St. Peter, to learn more about these niche sectors of the industry in preparation for the competition, which comes off this month.??

"This [tour] was to expose them to aspects of the Barbados tourism product as it relates to the two topics for discussion.?? At Lush Life, they got to explore the eco lodge concept, the nature trail hike and the anthurium flower farm, which produces flowers for the local and tourist markets.??

"At St. Nicholas Abbey, the students got to see the restored plantation house…which is one of three remaining Jacobian style mansions in the western hemisphere.?? They also had the opportunity to explore the grounds and the distillery, and view a historic film produced by one of the former owners, which featured information on plantation life during the 1930s," she revealed, adding that it was the first time the students had visited either of the attractions and they were eager to return.

Students participating in this year’s Speak Off Competition chat with Operations Manager at St. Nicholas Abbey, Heather Stoute, during their heritage tourism tour last week. (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism)

In addition to the attractions visited, Ms. Armstrong explained that participants could also draw agro and cultural tourism inspiration from events such as the Oistins’ Friday Night Fish Fry and Agrofest, as well as sites such as Martin’s Bay, St. John, and the Grapefruit Foodies Trail in St. Thomas.

The students also attended a briefing session hosted by veteran broadcaster Victor Brewster, which focused on presentation styles, development of oratorical skills and those areas which would assist them in preparing for competition day.

This year’s 11 participants hail from the Christ Church Foundation School, the Garrison Secondary School, Harrison College and St. James Secondary School.?? Each student will offer his or her recommendations on three ways in which government can increase the linkages between tourism and agriculture to provide greater synergies between the two sectors, and enhance competitiveness as a tourism destination; and three ways in which government can utilise Barbados’ cultural heritage tourism product as a viable niche market.??

There will also be a ???mystery topic’ based on general knowledge of Barbados and its tourism product.?? The winner of the Speak Off Competition will cop the title of Junior Minister of Tourism.


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