Tourism must show growth potential to attract youth — Prendergast
Participants, mainly high school students, at the recent Youth Tourism Summit held in Montego Bay, St James (Photo: Anthony Lewis)

ST JAMES, Jamaica – Director of The University of the West Indies, Mona, Western Jamaica campus, Patrick Prendergast has suggested that the tourism industry must improve the well-being and livelihood of the youth if they are to see a future in the industry.

"If our young people are to see a future in tourism, then tourism must position itself as an industry with tremendous potential for growth, upward mobility, and the achievement of both individual and community success," stated Prendergast as he addressed a Youth Tourism Summit at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James last Thursday.

"At this youth tourism summit, I call on the industry to do more in presenting itself as that viable and sustainable path to a brighter future. At the same time, I say to the youth, embrace your role and responsibility in making your chosen path, not only meaningful and productive for you, but also one that others will want to follow the opportunities created for you and by you today are the foundations upon which you become tomorrow's leaders," added Prendergast

He pointed to the importance of recognising that there is a responsibility in education to build capacities to develop the competencies in and among the youth population for the hospitality and tourism sectors.

"We have to be deliberate and I'm being deliberate and pointed in saying our students or instructors or lecturers or professors must be consistent in their exposure of the values that make a high-quality workforce and high-quality workplace experience," declared Prendergast.

He further argued that stakeholders have a responsibility to prepare the youth to meet all levels of needs, not only at the individual and personal level, but as a significant player in meeting the needs of the industry and the wider society.

"That is why I take this opportunity to support the recent call for greater collaboration and partnership between those in the industry, but also critically between the industry and/or higher education institutions," stated Prendergast, who was supported by the Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International (SRI) Adam Stewart.

"What Mr Prendergast said a while ago is spot on. The mix between academia and practical reality is what we're here to do today and that is why my company and The University of the West Indies get along so well because we are on the same page," stated Stewart.

According to Stewart, Sandals is not looking for workers with big degrees to reinvent the wheels but someone with the right attitude that can be trained.

Stewart had earlier told the summit that as SRI continues to pursue expansion plans over the next three to five years, it will hire 3,000 more employees to help execute its vision.

He said 300 of these new employees will be at management level and they will be on the job within the next three years.

"There is more happening in tourism than has ever been happening in our history. At this moment as we look forward, we recovered very strongly from COVID and are continuing to recover," he told a gathering of mostly high school students.

"All we need from you is the right attitude and we will train you to be your best self and an incredible professional," Stewart told the summit.

The youth summit was put on by The University of the West Indies' Mona School of Business and Management.

Anthony Lewis

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