As Cayman’s hospitality businesses make concerted efforts to attract more young Caymanians into the field of tourism, five local students recently got a taste of the industry.
The students, some of whom are signing up for a newly launched hospitality course at the University College of the Cayman Islands, took part in a new internship program run by the Caymanian Land & Sea Cooperative Society.
“The students showed real enthusiasm, interest and willingness to learn about the tourism industry and have learned quite a bit about our top local tourist attractions,” said Shaun Ebanks, chairman of the Caymanian Land & Sea Cooperative.
The four-week program attracted students ages 14 to 18 who spent most of their workdays outdoors on excursions, helping operators with the island tours. The tours stop at major tourism destinations such as the Cayman Turtle Farm, Tortuga Rum Cake Factory and Stingray City.
The experience left college student Jeremy Welcome, 18, considering a career in tourism.
“It’s an interesting field. We learned a lot and met new people every day. We went on tours, helped out with the ships, learned how to show people how to pet the stingrays and feed them.”
“This is one of the main industries the island runs off of,” Mr. Welcome said, adding that he plans to study tourism at UCCI.
The college, in partnership with local hospitality businesses, is launching a free one-year course in September in a bid to bring more Caymanians into the industry.
Joshua Coleman, 20, said he did some part-time work with a tour operator last year and now works full time as a dispatcher at the Caymanian Land & Sea Cooperative.
“I love talking to people, so that’s what got me in the tourism industry. It is a fun career; you do a lot of fun stuff when you’re doing tourism,” said Mr. Coleman.
Ethan Hydes, 14, enjoyed the experience: “You feel proud that you are from Cayman so you can show [visitors] the island, and how we live here so they can learn and want to come back again.
“So it’s nice meeting people from different places off the cruises.”
Havionna Daniel, 16, a recent high school graduate, is also getting ready to study hospitality management at UCCI this year.
“I thought it would be good idea to try it out and see how I like it because I wanted to do the course, but I wasn’t sure what it was really like,” said Ms. Daniel. “I thought the experience was good, even though I was the only girl. I did do office work, helping out the ladies in the office, but I also did go out on the boats and help with the tours and buses.
The five students were given an exam at the end of the month and they all passed.