Caribbean’s Youngest Ministers Offer New Ideas on the Future of Tourism
Above: Junior Ministers at the Tourism Youth Congress in St Kitts (CJ Photo)
By Alexander Britell
ST KITTS — Should Jamaica build a museum to honour sporting heroes like Usain Bolt?
Or should Dominica hold an annual “Nature Island Games” to draw visitors to its forested hills?
These were some of the ideas put forth by some of the Caribbean tourism industry’s newest visionaries Wednesday as part of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Tourism Youth Congress at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank’s campus in Basseterre.
The congress, which gathers “Junior Ministers” of Tourism aged 14 to 17 from around the Caribbean, has been taking place under the aegis of the CTO since 2000.
It was Jamaica’s O’Brian Lewis, the Junior Minister who offered the proposal for a national sports museum, who took home first place following three rounds of debate covering sports tourism, social media and celebrity endorsement. (Lewis, naturally, suggested that Usain Bolt should be Jamaica’s official spokesperson).
“Imagine, entering a black green building, where, at the entrance, you are greeted by cool reggae music — to the right, you see Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce; to your left, you find cricketers Courtney Walsh or Chris Gayle,” Lewis said of his proposed museum, perhaps finding the ear of one of the assembled tourism delegates on hand for the event.
Placing in second was Barbados’ Christopher Morgan, followed by St Maarten’s Kiran Jivnani and Turks and Caicos’ Arean Louis in a tie for third.
The young delegates were debating their own new ideas for the industry — from a establishing a high-level tennis academy in Antigua to fostering a haven for extreme sports in St Kitts — as their more seasoned counterparts held court at the Marriott in Basseterre to address regional airlift and other pressing issues for Caribbean tourism.
The congress, which was chaired by and Dominican native Kitwanie Carbon (who won the event last year), was preceded by a mock tourism debate put on by local students in St Kitts and Nevis.