PERMANENT Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Harrison Thompson encouraged over 300 new Bahama Host graduates to take the country’s tourism product to new heights.
Mr Thompson spoke during the graduation ceremony at the William Thompson Auditorium on December 1.
“You are joining a noble profession and you must help move this country to the next level,” Mr Thompson said during the keynote address. “We want all of you to make considerable effort to ensure that whatever you do it is the best that can give.
“Treat every tourist as your bread and butter. Bahama Host ensures that you develop a passion for the country. Listening to the testimonies earlier it is clear that your passion and your commitment will ensure that the Bahamas remains on the cutting edge.
“We look forward to your excellent service and taking your country to higher heights. This graduation tonight is just the beginning. You are starting anew. We at the Ministry of Tourism welcome you. There is much work to be done and we need all hands on deck because tourism is everyone’s business.”
Bahama Host is a training programme designed to familiarise participants about the country’s history, culture and geography. It is also a customer-based programme, which places emphasis on service excellence.
It was a big night for the Ministry of Tourism’s Industry Training Department, which spent all year training professionals.
Michael Miller, an entrepreneur who graduated, said he the programme “touched him.”
“I took the course to acquire a tour permit, but after being in the course and seeing what the course is it became a training process for life,” he said. “It enhanced me as a Bahamian. It opened my eyes to see the importance of service. It made me understand the coat of arms, the flag etc.
“Bahama Host to me was an eye opener. I’m signing up next year for the advanced course. I have my brother and a few friends signing up next year for this course.
“It touched me, which is a big thing in my life.”
Benjamin Hoffer of Bay West Adventures said his company placed five of its captains in the course.
“We thought it was in our best interest,” he said. “We had to shut business down for a week but it was definitely worth it. Shane Thompson and Diana Brooks are good people to be around. We learned so much from them.”
Darron Bethel, a Royal Bahamas Defence Force officer, said he was among 20 officers to take part in the course.
“I was delighted to be there,” he said. “There was a lot of information passed on us and about the tourism sector and how to better yourself. It is going to help us to be better stewards.”
Graduates included professionals from the Ministry of Tourism, the Department of Immigration, the Nassau Airport Development Company, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, tour guide operators, and high school students.
Director of Industry Training Ian Ferguson said it was a busy year for Bahama Host.
“We were able to partner with the Urban Renewal Centre, the Department of Public Health, Terice Curry of the Marjorie Davis Institute and David Curry of the Ministry of Finance to provide for a period of three weeks a Bahama Host and life skills program to unemployed youth in that inner-city community,” Mr Ferguson said. “We have already engaged the Urban Renewal centres in Bain and Grants Town and Fox Hill to begin those community Bahama Host sessions at the immediate turn of 2017.”
Mr Ferguson said Bahama Host held a certification programme in 14 schools on New Providence, four in Grand Bahama and many more throughout the Family Islands in 2016.
“Additionally, we were able to begin a pilot programme for two cohorts of ninth grade students at the LW Young for the first time exposing a younger audience to the certification.”
The programme has a bright future and aims to cover the islands of The Bahamas with relevant and impactful talent development initiatives that will ultimately positively influence the visitor experience.