On March 6, the Abaco Tourist Office held its Junior Minister of Tourism Speech Competition in the Office of The Prime Minister’s Conference Room. Dushinka Darville introduced the six high school students, who presented their speeches on the topic: “The Impact of our Culture on Tourism.”
Joshua Robins of St. Francis De Sales Catholic School was the first speaker. Robins was followed by Tanisha Charlton of S. C. Bootle High School; Celeste Kelly of Long Bay School; Curtisher Mills of S.C. Bootle High School; Joshua Archer of Long Bay School; and Jonnajah Boodle of Forest Heights Academy.
In her speech, Tanisha Charlton spoke about Tourism’s role and culture being a part of our country’s attractiveness.
She pointed out that beyond natural beauty, The Bahamas has music like Goombay and rake n’ scrape as well as social and religious influences that have left lasting impacts. Other important aspects, Tanisha said, are the friendly nature of the Bahamian people and the attendance of visitors to local events like Homecomings and Regatta.
“Visitors come to The Bahamas to escape here for business or island life adventure,” Tanisha said. “We have to remain true to who we are – our history and heritage, our folklore and cuisine. We have to take customers back to our roots.”
Next, Curtisher Mills started off with an appealing Junkanoo introduction before asking the audience the question: “What are strangers looking for?”
In her response, Curtisher was convinced that visitors search for our festivals, food and rich culture.
“The sights, the sounds and the taste – the impact is that they come to see!” she declared. “We have to give them that ‘more’ they are looking for.”
Jonnajah Boodle opened her speech with facts regarding the “Father of Tourism” – Sir Stafford Sands. She reasoned that Sands somehow knew that tourism would become the career of the ages.
Coupled with the culture and the climate of The Bahamas, Jonnajah added that other profound aspects are Bahamian music, Junkanoo and its handmade costumes, Androsian fabric, jewelry and straw crafts, our hospitality, cuisine, and the four million visitors that visit the country each year.
“On an exit survey, six out of 10 visitors thought The Bahamas was much better than they expected,” Jonnajah revealed. “We are all ambassadors, we are all involved, and we all play a role no matter how small.
“All the culture in the world would not bring tourists without these accessories,” she concluded.
After tallying their scores, the judges determined the winners based on the 40 percent acquired from the students’ interviews, and the remaining 60 percent from their speeches.
Jonnajah Boodle won the competition to become the 2014 Junior Minister of Tourism for Abaco, while Tanisha Charlton and Curtisher Mills of S.C. Bootle, placed second and third, respectively.
Jonnajah will travel to Nassau on March 27 to compete against students who won the title of Junior Minister of Tourism on each island. At the National competition, the students will be presenting their speech on the topic – “Celebrating 50 Years: Protecting the Brand, Promoting the Destination.”