Signal Hill Sec student wins tourism debate competition

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Signal Hill Secondary student J’Nae Brathwaite, centre, collects her trophy from Secretary of Tourism Tashia Burris, right, after being named Junior Secretary at the Tourism Youth Congress on Friday, Anne Mitchell-Gift auditorium, Scarborough library. – THA

Signal Hill Secondary’s J’Nae Brathwaite is the 2022 Tobago Tourism Youth Congress Junior Secretary.

The annual debate competition featured eight participants discussing innovative ideas on improving the tourism industry. Brathwaite, who earned 375 points, will represent Tobago at the 2022 Caribbean Tourism Youth Congress, in the Cayman Islands, from September 12-15.

Brathwaite’s winning presentation on Friday, at the Anne Mitchell-Gift Auditorium, Scarborough Library, focused on the benefits of experiential tourism. She said the latest data shows that 53 per cent of young adults, 18-24, are eager to spend on new and authentic experiences. She proposed three strategies for the island to appeal to millennials and Generation Z.

“Firstly, I propose we create immersive museum experiences… It’s a specialised museum that creates the illusion of time and place by representing key characteristics of a referenced world… For example, visitors in the village of Charlotteville can dance the cocoa, and while there they can go into recreated 20th-century homes and sip on chocolate tea and eat freshly-baked bread from the dirt oven. This will fulfil the needs of experiential tourists who want and immersive experience and to connect with communities.”

Brathwaite said Tobago must also capitalise on user-generated content. She said tourists will build the Tobago brand by sharing their experiences on social media. She said a Tobago app is important to maximise this.

“Finally, my third strategy is the introduction of augmented reality tours. This will allow our target audience to see the beauty of our sites as a prelude to their visit. Access to our interactive virtual maps and 360-degree panoramic views.”

She said an augmented reality tour of the popular Buccoo goat racing will be an exciting experience.

In second place was Bishop’s High School’s Sohiela Makoul, while Speyside High School’s Nyvanne Kirk settled for the third spot.

Other schools such as Goodwood Secondary, Mason Hall Secondary, Roxborough Secondary and Scarborough Secondary also participated.

Chair of the Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd (TTAL) and chief judge Alicia Edwards said she was energised by the optimism of youth. The future of Tobago, she said, is definitely guided in the right direction in terms of the mentorship programme which is an excellent way of planning for the next generation of leaders.

Edwards said the judges were hoping for more diversity not just among the students participating but among the panel. She said, there seems to be a male crisis on the island, and it is important to find the young men as they are not going to volunteer for opportunities and activities of this nature. Overall, she said that the presentations were well researched.

“You could actually see that the schools, the teachers and all those who were involved did a good amount of preparations and sifting for the presentations.”

She said that the location of the congress must be noted as there are tremendous benefits to reading more. She criticised some f the participants for not being able to present their points clearer.

“We had to work too hard to get some of your ideas and points. That pointed to the fact that some of us did not structure our presentations too well – all the parts were there but they were not stitched and organised together. It is important to use your time allotted, you had three to five minutes for your presentations, do not sabotage yourself by only speaking for two minutes.”

She said it is important for contestants to answer questions fully.

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