Our Readers' Opinions
April 23, 2010
Support Tourism’s Primary Schools’ Choral Speech Competition


Editor: Kudos goes to the Ministry of Tourism for their foresight in initiating a primary schools’ choral speech competition. Though very much in its embryonic stage, this initiative is destined to succeed. This is an aspect of our cultural expression that has been woefully neglected, especially in the privileged schools.{{more}} Apart from adding a fillip to the Ministry of Tourism, it would most certainly heighten students’ awareness of what tourism really means to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

However, if such a competition is to be a national success, it is imperative that the Ministry of Education, teachers, parents and the wider community come on board. In an era of global tourism, St. Vincent and the Grenadines needs all the promotion it can get. Therefore, we are obligated by civic duty to educate each other, with the ultimate goal being the holistic marketing of SVG as a top tourist destination. The dividends to be reaped from such a thrust will be reflected in the increase in tourism earnings.

This timely intervention by the Ministry of Tourism should, therefore, be applauded, since it will impact positively on the psyche of the students. In any event, all aspects of tourism in SVG will be highlighted during the choral speech competition. It is hoped that teachers would seize the opportunity to inculcate a greater appreciation for tourism among their students while preparing them for the competition.

I am of the firm view that choral speaking is our best form of cultural expression. Through this medium, we are emboldened with a language to effectively display and promote our rich cultural heritage. Apart from fascinating foreigners, our Creole language reflects our cultural diversity as proud descendants of Africa. Consequently, a History, Geography and Social Studies lesson can be encapsulated into one promotional package to a potential tourist audience.

The dual benefits to be derived from this Ministry of Tourism/primary schools venture cannot be over-emphasized. Among other things, this competition provides for co-operation, and directs all students towards a common goal. Students will also feel less conspicuous or intimidated, especially those who are shy or withdrawn. It also provides for speech improvement in pitch, volume, diction, enunciation and a clear interpretation of the topic. So, one can easily see that this student friendly competition is also geared at improving students’ self-confidence and esteem.

Unfortunately, on the national front, there is a litany of inherent bad tourism practices inculcated in us. The perennial problem of improper waste disposals and poor customer service continue to mar our country’s image. The fact that there isn’t a public waste receptacle in capital Kingstown speaks deafeningly about our tourism thrust. There is also a definite need for the bolstering of our eco-tourism: upgrade and beautify trails to sites like La Soufriere Volcano and the Vermont Nature Trail. Serious thoughts and efforts also need to be placed into the presentation of our billboards/sign boards to meet requisite international standards. A pertinent observation is that VINLEC is one of very few local business entities that market themselves while serving their customers. A savvy business move like this goes a long way in a globally competitive climate.

If St. Vincent and the Grenadines is to pose any serious challenge to competing tourism destinations, then a more vigorous marketing thrust must be adopted:

a. More local based TV programmes with emphasis on selling SVG wholesale to the wider world.

b. Negotiate with Cable giants like Discovery and Disney to document features of SVG as the natural place to be.

c. Select a tourism promotional team/committee with licence to market SVG in events like Labour Day Parade, Caribana, Northinghill Carnival and T&T Carnival.

This undertaking can take many forms, but must include Vincentians in the Diaspora.

In closing, let us not let the exploits of choral speech giants like Mr Martin Quashie, Mrs Olivia Da Silva and Mr Ardon Nelson come to nought. Let’s support the Ministry of Tourism in this worthwhile venture. If the vigour shown by tourism officer Mrs Jackie Joseph is emulated by teachers throughout the country, then we are in for a great inaugural competition. May St. Vincent and the Grenadines win!!!

Collin CA$H Haywood