Thursday, June 5, 2008

Caribbean youth well represented at regional conference

The youth played an integral role in the discussions on sustainable tourism at the 12th full edition of the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, recently.

Kenrick Quashie, 22-year-old youth delegate from St Vincent and the Grenadines, said the conference had inspired him to do more for tourism in the region.

"It has motivated me more to embrace the tourism industry and the greatest thing I have left [the conference] with is that more needs to be done in the Caribbean for tourism in order for the industry to survive," he said.

At the forefront of the debate, was the need for more youth involvement in regional tourism policies and a greater effort by Caribbean youth to get involved in the process of transformation in the tourism sector.

Bevan Springer, executive producer of CMEx (produced by Counterpart International), said youth involvement in tourism dialogue was seen as a key area for regional development because of the important roles the youth play in society today.

Development dialogue

"A few years ago, we decided to increase the number of young people attending CMEx because they represent the Caribbean's future and ought to be a part of the sustainable tourism development dialogue and they are an integral part of the media landscape, given the increasing number of youth media outlets and youth sections in the region."

Under 20 youth delegates from different countries across the region and North America were represented at the five-day conference that saw young persons, media workers, government officials and representatives of the tourism industry discussing important sustainable tourism issues.

Bahamian youth delegate, Adrian Wildgoose, said the conference had a significant impact on his perception of tourism in the region.

"CMEx gave me a new perspective on tourism in general because I used to see it as countries marketing themselves, but now I see it as a lifestyle. It impacted me in a lot of ways, for example, just to get a chance to link up with youth from around the Caribbean in a setting like that connected me more in the sense that I feel obligated now to do something to, in some way, get the common man to want that experience,"he said.

In relation to youth involvement in tourism initiatives in the region, Counterpart's president, Lelei LeLaulu, had this to say:

"The young people of the Caribbean will be the stewards of the biggest industry in the region - tourism - in just a few years and we want to ensure they have a say in their own future."