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Kirkconnell: tourism benefits must trickle down

| 26/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): If the effects of record breaking statistics for tourism in the Cayman Islands are not trickling down to small business owners and the people who work in the industry “then we are merely skirting round the edges of opportunity and our efforts are seriously missing the mark,” Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell told the Legislative Assembly last week. Giving an update on the Cayman Islands School of Hospitality Studies (SHS), he said programme aimed to increase the number of Caymanians in the industry. But, he said, “The primary goal is to provide each student with a solid foundation on which they can build lucrative and rewarding long-term careers in the tourism industry right here at home.”

The SHS hoped to develop and inspire Caymanians to fill the high-end and highly paid positions within the tourism industry as well as the lower-end jobs, the minister said. “The hospitality sector is comprised of more than waiters and waitresses serving in restaurants; and front office staff at Hotel reception desks; and taxi drivers; and housekeepers and tour operators,” Kirkconnell said, noting that the industry also offered “a large number of highly paid, highly skilled roles which are filled by highly qualified professionals”.

The courses offered will include field trips and placements to a variety of hotels, restaurants and attractions to acquaint students with the full scope of the industry.

“I can attest that the response from the private sector has been extremely gratifying and commencing next week, meetings will be held with various participating establishments to solidify how many students can be accommodated at each location, and their precise expectations from the students,” said Kirkconnell, the deputy premier as well as minister of tourism. “The Cayman Islands is experiencing a massive upswing in visitor arrivals and with more and more tourists crossing our borders than ever before, service quality and excellence are no longer mere expectations, they are non-negotiable requirements that simply must be met,” he stated.

The programme introduces students to the background and fundamentals of service excellence,” he said, adding, “Given that customer expectations are constantly evolving and what we regard as excellent today will quickly become the standard of tomorrow, students will be taught how to evaluate tasks and figure out how to enhance the customer experience.” Kirkconnell reminded his legislative colleagues that “our people are our most valuable asset”.

“While it is undoubtedly gratifying to consistently achieve great tourism performance and exceed monthly targets, if the effects of our record breaking statistics are not trickling down to small business owners and craft vendors and taxi drivers and the like, and impacting their lives in a positive and tangible way, then we are merely skirting round the edges of opportunity and our efforts are seriously missing the mark,” he said.

“The School of Hospitality Studies will go a long way towards rebalancing and redistributing the pieces of the proverbial pie, by ensuring that Caymanians – particularly our young people – will finally be in a position to contribute to, and benefit from, the industry’s success to the extent that they should be. Their participation will also help to infuse the distinctly local flavor into the tourism sector that is reflective of our national identity, and is in keeping with what visitors expect when they come to our shores.”

Read full speech. Deputy Premier_ Hospitality School Update for LA_September 2014

Watch videos:

Wayne Jackson, Director SHS
Cayman hospitality school graduates will be job ready

Marc Langevin, the GM of the Ritz-Carlton and member of the SHS Advisory Council
Hospitality school aims to find students’ passion in tourism

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Category: Education & Training, Local Business, Stay-over tourism, Tourism, Watersports

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