NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Having a top-notch tourism product is key, but maintaining a robust pipeline for the most competent, passionate and inspired human capital to deliver service excellence makes the industry flourish.
That is the message leaders in the sector drove home when they spoke to high-school students attending a recent symposium at University of The Bahamas (UB).
The students were hosted by the College of Tourism, Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Leisure Management (CALM) focused on the skills required for the sector that contributes 60 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Many UB alumni serve in key roles in tourism and hospitality.
Graeme Davis, Baha Mar Resort president and chief executive officer, shared that what started out for him as a natural curiosity, turned into a knack for cooking, and has become a 40-year career. Davis urged the students to envision how they can turn their talents into rewarding careers in the vast hospitality and tourism landscape.
“Here we are today. The opportunities are limitless for all of you and there is no better time to start than today, thinking about your college education,” said Davis who was speaking on the topic, ‘Creating a Tourism and Hospitality Education Mindset’.
Davis explained a key factor for success.
“It doesn’t matter how much you build quality or luxury, it’s the service that will make the difference and that starts with all of the new associates that join us from entry level all the way up to my position. It is important that everyone is inspired and motivated every day,” Davis said.
He acknowledged that working closely with UB is a priority to deliver the programmes and training necessary for the best-equipped professionals.
CALM has produced world-class graduates who have helped to drive growth and innovation in the industry. In addition to the programmes it offers, it is also on a mission to forge deeper collaborations and synergies with industry stakeholders.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and Aviation Chester Cooper echoed Davis’ sentiments when he spoke to the students. Cooper also proposed an elite magnet programme for hospitality and tourism at the high school level as a feeder for enrolment in UB and eventual careers in tourism.
“Upon graduation, students can automatically enroll in UB. The programme would be incentivized with scholarships, stipends, and a guarantee of employment upon graduation,” Cooper said.
Cooper, a UB alum, added that the tourism and hospitality sector has the widest range of career opportunities and potential for career growth. But he noted that the nation is losing market share of Caribbean tourists.
“These forums are important to understand that while tourism is booming, we cannot rest on our laurels. We must step up our game and attract the brightest, smartest, the most creative and the people with the warmest Bahamian spirit and personalities that we can find,” he said.
UB President Dr. Erik Rolland stressed how important it is to collaborate with leaders and stakeholders in the tourism sector. He foreshadowed a focus on academic programmes that will bolster innovative tourism to give The Bahamas a competitive edge.
During the symposium, other tourism leaders also addressed the students including Ian Ferguson, Executive Director of the Tourism Development Corporation; Stuart Bowe, Director of Hotel Operations at Goldwynn Resort and Residences; Tameka Burrows-Forbes, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Atlantis Bahamas; and Mario Adderley, Dean of CALM.