Nevisian student Neila Jones has emerged winner of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO)’s Tourism Youth Congress held in Martinique as part of the 2013 State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC2013).
Ms. Jones, a student of the Gingerland Secondary School, was out front from the beginning of the debate in which 14 youngsters from CTO member countries addressed one of two topic – “Multigenerational Travel of Grand Tripping” and “Agro Tourism: There’s More To It Than Visiting the Farms.” The students also had to show they were quick thinkers after they were given a mystery topic – “Share One Thing You Would Like To Achieve As Junior Minister of Tourism and State Why Achieving or Experiencing This Would be Important to You”, They had one minute to formulate their answers.
Ms. Jones, 16, presented some fascinating recommendations, including a plan to facilitate the establishment of farm-bungalow lodgings, complemented by activities like farm tours, donkey cart rides and folk stories around camp fires.
“I have no words to express how I feel. I’m so overwhelmed and full of excitement,” she said the news of her victory sank in.
“Agro-tourism is very important because it helps the island and benefits both the visitors and the people who live on the island,” Ms. Jones added.
Ms. Jones said she would work closely with her peers in order to encourage them to get involved in tourism, but she has no immediate plans to become minister of tourism in her native Nevis, although she said she’d welcome the opportunity if it came her way.
In second position was Renita Shirnauth of St. Joseph Convent in St. Lucia while Annick Bedford of St. Kitts took the third spot. The first prize winner’s award, a mini iPad, was sponsored by Opusseven. The second prize was a kindle fire and third place took home a nook.
The students, aged between14-17 shared some innovative ideas, from a model farm in St. Lucia where honeymooners would have their vows written in shredded farm vegetables to rum shop tourism in Barbados where there are more than 1500 rum shops.
The team from Nevis was led by Vanessa Webbe, Tourism Education Officer and Coordinator of the local Bank of Nevis Ltd. Tourism Youth Congress and was also supported by Deborah Lellouch, Tourism Specialist Teacher attached to the Ministry of Tourism.
This year’s Youth Congress was chaired by last year’s winner, O’Brian Lewis of Jamaica.