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Summer intern programme strengthens ties between tourism, business and educators

An innovative programme, conducted over the summer by the Bahamas Hotel Association in collaboration with the Tourism Ministry, aims to give students hands-on experience in the hospitality industry. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

While students in The Bahamas enjoy their summer break, an annual programme is encouraging teachers to skip the beach and head back to school to learn about what makes the tourism industry tick.

For the past seven years, the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) has hosted its Summer Educator Internship Programme, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, Ministry of Education and the College of The Bahamas’ Culinary Hospitality Management Institute. During the programme, the country’s educators spend a week each summer learning about the range of careers and businesses within the tourism sector, and how to better prepare students interested in pursuing careers in that field.

The internship programme provides public and private school teachers, principals and counsellors in schools across The Bahamas with a hands-on “snapshot” of the tourism industry and an opportunity for educators to understand how they can introduce tourism into the classroom and help nurture the industry’s “future workforce.” Organizers say that despite being held in the summer, the internship programme continues to attract interest, with attendance numbers doubling each year, with more than 600 educators participating since the programme’s inception.

“We are thrilled to be able to create this opportunity to strengthen and build on the relationship we have with the Ministry of Education and educators throughout The Bahamas,” says Beverly Saunders, chairperson of BHA workforce development. “While tourism is the lifeblood of our economy, teachers are its soul.”

Since it began in 2003, the internship programme has also evolved to include participation from more businesses and hotels eager to impart their knowledge of the tourism sector to a growing number of educators.

With more than 1,000 job classifications within The Bahamas’ tourism industry and countless entrepreneurial possibilities, the internship programme presents a meaningful professional development opportunity for educators to enhance their understanding of the industry and the career options it presents to students.

The private sector actively participates in the programme, conducting workshops and hosting open discussions with industry leaders. Approximately 15 hotels and tourism-related businesses typically operate as placement and training sites for interns for three days, and a feedback and brainstorming session is held on the final day.

“We applaud the educators who have invested their time and professional development over the summer to learn how to better connect tourism to their school experience,” says Bridget Murray, manager of BHA workforce development. “Having worked with our educators over the years, we are assured from their comments and commitment to the programme, that they have benefitted tremendously. We are indebted to our host properties and we encourage others to join us in hosting our esteemed educators.”

This issue looks at some of the players behind key foreign direct investment projects in the island nation. On the cover, one of the region's youngest chief executive officers and heir to the Sandals resorts empire, Adam Stewart, talks about the hotel chain's latest acquisition on Great Exuma. The 30-year-old Jamaican has overseen the multi-million dollar "Sandalization" of the former Four Seasons resort to create a luxury, couples only, all-inclusive island getaway, replete with butler service, infinity pool and acres of pristine beachfront.

Local organizations combine efforts to improve and expand the visitor experience on the nation's second most populous island.

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