A 15-year-old student from St. Eustatius, Lemisse Gittens, emerged as winner of this year’s Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)/Travel + Leisure Tourism Youth Congress held at the 27th annual Caribbean Tourism Conference (CTC-27) in Aruba.ÊTHe young lady was among 15 high school students between the ages of 14 and 17 who represented their respective countries as “Junior Ministers of Tourism” at the fourth Annual Youth Congress which is sponsored by Travel + Leisure, with support from the Naismith Basketball Foundation and Air Jamaica.
“I feel great and honoured to be the winner of the Youth Congress and I hope this will help bring more attention to St. Eustatius,” an obviously overjoyed Ms. Gittens said.
During the 90-minute event, the students were challenged to discuss what the Caribbean should do to reap significant benefits from promoting cultural and heritage tourism and to suggest the types of activities and events to attract the youth and students market.
“The CTO/Travel + Leisure Youth Congress is an important programme that affects the long term future of the region and an exciting initiative that creates opportunities for young people of the Caribbean and for the region’s tourism,” said Ellen Asmodeo, VP/Publisher of Travel + Leisure.
“By introducing the students to the essential role of tourism in the growth of their countries we hope to spark dreams and ambitions and create strong leadership within their generation. It is a worthwhile initiative and as the world’s leading travel magazine, Travel + Leisure is thrilled to be a part of the Youth Congress,” she added.
The 4th Annual CTO/Travel + Leisure Youth Congress, which simulated a CTO board of directors meeting, was chaired by last year’s winner, Nisharma Rattan-Mack of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“This Youth Congress was outstanding for the remarkable contributions that we heard from the Junior Ministers of Tourism and it is important and relevant that we continue to grow this event and get all our countries involved,” stated Bonita Morgan, CTO’s director of human resources.
Ms. Gittens received US$500.00 in cash and secured US$1,000.00 for her school, the Statia Oil Terminal School; Ms. Smith won US$300.00 and Ms. Hodge, US$200.00. Each student also received a laptop.
Travel + Leisure, in conjunction with CTO, will also offer three-month internships to the top three winners.
“The is an exciting new component to the programme which will help broaden its impact. We will be choosing internships within the winners’ native countries to give them hands-on experience and propel them further into the tourism industry,” Ms. Asmodeo said.