REMARKS BY JUNIOR MINISTER FOR TOURISM
HONOURABLE SHARIE B. DeCASTRO
LAUNCH OF THE TOURISM CERTIFICATION TRAINING PROGRAMME
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2020
Good morning everyone! I respectfully recognise the established protocol and I want to thank you very much for making time to attend today’s event; to launch the Tourism Certification Training Programme as part of the reopening and recovery of our Tourism Sector. I am pleased to welcome you all!
Today, we are here to talk about capacity building of personnel within the tourism sector. This is proof that when life throws you lemons, you make lemonade! Here we are, in the middle of a global pandemic that has practically brought our industry to a standstill, but instead of cowering, we are standing upright, capitalising on the moment – “making lemonade”. We are partnering with the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) to deliver training and development under the internationally recognised certification “START”- the Skills, Task, And Results Training.
The extensive reach of this certification is why the BVI Tourist Board has decided to collaborate with HLSCC - which is willingly endorsed by your Government. In consideration of our partners, we engaged this opportunity to ensure that when we open the Territory on December 1st, not only are our partners ready to get back to work, but our personnel are ready and American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute certified – to provide services to our guests at the highest level.
You see, contrary to what you may have heard, we have been in discussion with HLSCC to employ this programme via this accredited institution – with which the BVI Tourist Board has an existing MOU (Memorandum of Understanding). The intention is to ensure we provide you with a highly recognised certification, which is part of our marketing strategy; as we believe that travelers and guests will be more comfortable travelling to a destination they know is prepared to satisfy their needs and to do so safely.
I can assure you that those who will register for this certification, will benefit from the training, not only in the safety and security of yourselves but also that of our visitors; thereby helping us to create an overall positive experience for our guests. The fact is, this kind of investment in our service providers, is one that we are happy to do, because this is in line with our commitment to developing our Territory’s human resource. We want to make sure that our people are trained, qualified and ready to perform at the highest possible standard and capacity. Additionally, this initiative is a crucial step in establishing a good first impression of the British Virgin Islands. This is because our frontline personnel will become better equipped to offer the authentic BVILOVE experience!
We are not naive, and so we understand that considerable challenges remain ahead, especially with the unknown duration of the pandemic and the global travel restrictions. However, we must ensure that as part of our preparedness, we are implementing a wide range of measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the industry and on our partners. This is us “putting our money where our mouth is” as proven by our promise to cover the cost for persons who will sign up for this training programme. In this vain, I also want to take this opportunity to remind our tourism partners that we are committed to making sure that we work to prevent any further COVID-19 outbreak, and to stimulate the recovery of our tourism sector.
I wish to also express my sincere appreciation to Mrs. Keisha Davis-Barnes, Director, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Services and the entire team here at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College for the hard work they have invested in helping us to make this initiative a reality. It is a demonstration of us – Government, sectors, agencies, and statutory bodies - all coming together for the benefit of our tourism sector and to bolster our economic recovery.
In this moment, I want to say thanks to our local media and to also let you know that you too are partners in our efforts to rejuvenate the BVI’s economy. You play a most vital role in the sharing of our experiences and packaging of our messages that will help in telling the world that the BVI’s Tourism Sector is ready, qualified, and safe for persons to visit. It is my firm belief that if we all work together, we can fine-tune an approach which satisfies the security needs of our Territory and advances our tourism goals.
This is a pivotal point for us as a Territory, as we introduce this training programme as an intervention strategy, which has proven successful in other destinations. If we are to succeed, we need all hands-on deck, the entire community working together with the hope and goal that we see ourselves not only as professionals, but also as BVILOVE tourism ambassadors.
It therefore, gives me great pleasure to be here in this moment to officially launch this training programme and I trust that our industry personnel will take full advantage. I am confident that the information shared will be most beneficial to you, as we seek to develop our tourism sector and to ensure the safety and security of our citizens and visitors to the British Virgin Islands. Thank you.