Students of the HJ Robinson High School in Grand Turk were given the chance on Tuesday, November 14th to learn about job opportunities in the tourism industry, when the Ministry of Tourism, through Experience Turks and Caicos – formerly the TCI Tourist Board - hosted a Career and Entrepreneur Fair for children on that island.
The event, held at the Yellowman and Sons Auditorium, coincided with Tourism Environmental Awareness Month, of which the theme is “Investing in Today for Tomorrow”. The career fair was the first of three such events that Experience Turks and Caicos is scheduled to stage during November.
The other two are scheduled to be held in South Caicos on November 21st and Providenciales on November 30th.
In her address, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Josephine Connolly stressed that tourism is the biggest employer in the Turks and Caicos Islands and everything is related to that industry.
“Over the past decade, we have enjoyed immense popularity. We have direct flights from the US every day, we have over 25 flights from the US into the Turks and Caicos Islands on a Saturday and sometimes on a Sunday,” Connolly said. “We have two direct flights from Europe, Virgin which started last Wednesday and we have British Airways twice a week. There are flights from Canada connecting us and we have flights connecting us in the Caribbean. We have Caicos Express and InterCaribbean Airways.”
She added: “We have to prepare ourselves because we want our tourists to have the best experience from the time they arrive until the time they leave. The industry is changing, the skills are changing and it all matches what the travel and tourism industry needs.”
Minister Connolly emphasized that tourism accounts for 85 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and as a result, pointing out that everything is related to tourism.
“Tourism accounts for a large percentage of the workforce and there are many other jobs and businesses that support the tourism industry like cleaning services, landscaping, banking, groceries, shipping companies, utility companies, lawyers and so many more. Although these organizations are not directly into tourism, tourism accounts for a significant portion of their business,” she said.
She added: “Investing in Today for Tomorrow is not solely for economic growth, but it is about investing in our environment, communities and most importantly investing in yourselves. Seek membership, acquire knowledge and never underestimate the power of perseverance.”
Also giving remarks was Hon. Shaun Malcolm, Minister of Health and Human Services, who encouraged the students to take in everything they can learn.
“This is a great initiative. I had the privilege of working in the hotel industry, in the tourism industry for over 19 years, so this is something that is very close and dear to my heart. The Minister of Tourism is working tirelessly every day to ensure that not only do we remain the envy of the Caribbean but that we bring our people along, and I want you to know that we spenthours under her leadership as a Government working on improving every island and you will see in the not too-distant-future, many good things, big things coming to fruition. As the Minister said, Tourism is our business, it is our breadbasket and we don’t take that lightly,” he said.
In his remarks, Hon. Jamel Robinson, Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure pointed out the careers that people would not normally associate with tourism.
“You have your firemen, you have your Airports Authority, you have Invest TCI, the police and many others, because we all work together to make that 85 percent of our GDP work for all of us,” he said, noting that his ministry provides the supporting infrastructure to help the tourism industry in the Turks and Caicos to be the best in the world,” Robinson said.
In his keynote address, Junior Minister of Tourism Kiajé Williams said the theme for the Month of celebration resonates with his role.
“It signifies the importance of strategic value of decision making, recognising the choices you make today directly impacts the future we are building for the generation to come. In the Turks and Caicos, a nation of pristine beaches, rich culture and warm hospitality, investing in today for tomorrow is not only sustaining our tourism industry but also ensuring its responsible growth.
It involves equipping our future generation with the skill and knowledge to be stewards of our natural resources and ambassadors of our unique heritage,” he said.
The Tourism Career and Entrepreneurship Fair saw participation from a number of agencies and vendors. Among Experience Turks and Caicos for its month of activities are: the TCI Community College, Beaches Resort, the Turks and Caicos Airport Authority, the Human Resource Management Directorate, the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Force, the Turks and Caicos Fire Services, the Department of Environmental Coastal Resources (DECR), Department of Maritime and Fisheries, Funtastic Tours, Splash Tours, Invest TCI, Blue Water Divers, Aunty Nanns, Tasty Treats and the Department of Tourism Regulations (DTR).