FOLLOWING a productive 2016 work year, the Hospitality Industry Advisory Committee (HiAC) recently held a general membership meeting to discuss its 2017 work plan.
The meeting was chaired by Joseph (Joe) Du Bois (Chairman). Other members in attendance were SLHTA CEO NooraniAzzez, Carl Hunter of AnseChastanet/Jade Mountain, Claudius Quashie, Deputy Labour Commissioner, John Mathurin of Serenity Vacations & Tours, Colvis Samuels of the Ministry of Education and Kirk Elliott of Kirk Elliott Photography.
As Saint Lucia continues to grow its tourism product, HiAC has identified an urgent need for industry-wide manpower strengthening. The recent public discussion on the workforce void created by Royalton’s entry into the marketplace underscores the emergency we face. Add to this the fact that not only is more resorts coming on stream, but also that government seeks to grow cruise arrivals by some 20% of its current capacity.
For Saint Lucia to experience maximum economic yield, the Royalton experience must be our wake-up call at multiple levels:
• At the employee level: both the employed as well as those seeking employment must consciously and actively seek out targeted education that leads to self-improvement as a catalyst for career advancement.
• At the private sector/employer level: organizations must employ scientific skills assessment principles to inform their current and future manpower needs.
HiAC continues to draw attention to the dire need for improved technical and vocational skills training alongside an even more pressing need for soft skills training. The committee strongly advocates that Saint Lucia develops a National Training Agenda in these critical areas. This agenda can be seen as a necessary first step towards attracting funding that would be used to address this deficiency at the soonest.
Urgent Need For An Environment That Is Conducive To Local Entrepreneurship
As Saint Lucia seeks to stimulate economic growth through the engine of tourism, it is important that we develop a work ethic that is hinged on pride in service and a recognition that service does not equate to servitude.
As part of the plan for economic growth, attention must be paid to creating an environment that is conducive to local entrepreneurship. The cruise tourism sector holds tremendous potential in this area and there is great benefit to be gained from an approach that seeks to define a per-passenger monetary yield projection from the anticipated increased traffic.
Romanus Lansiquot, a past Minister for Tourism, coined the slogan “Let’s Be The Best” and this is an opportune time for us to revisit that gem of an idea and then start living it.