Sixteen high schools across Jamaica are slated to participate in this year’s renewal of the National Tourism Debate.
The event, being funded at a cost of $3.5 million, spans more than a decade and is organised by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
It was officially launched during a semi-virtual ceremony at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St. James, on Tuesday (October 4).
The participating institutions are defending champions Belair High School, and Calabar High School, Immaculate Conception High School, Cornwall College, Holland High School, Charlemont High School, Edwin Allen High School, Wolmer’s Girls’ School, Jamaica College, York Castle High School, DeCarteret College, Wolmer’s Boys’ School, The Manning’s School, St. George’s College, Glenmuir High School and Kingston College.
The institutions will compete in the knockout style debate, set to commence in two weeks and culminate in November. The preliminary rounds will be held online before schools go face-to-face.
The winner will book a spot in the regional competition, alongside counterpart schools from several countries, including St. Lucia, Barbados, and The Bahamas.
Additionally, the local competition will, for the first time, have a sectional prize for the top school in Western Jamaica.
Speaking at the launch, Executive Director for the National Tourism Debate 2022, Michelle Tulloch, encouraged as many students as possible to participate in the competition, noting that it is an educational initiative designed to sensitise youth about the tourism industry’s opportunities and challenges.
“The students will be better equipped to make critical career choices, and those that decide to pursue careers in tourism will set off on their journey on better footing,” she stated.
For his part, TEF Executive Director, Dr. Carey Wallace, indicated that the entity is heavily invested in Jamaica’s future generation, particularly those interested in a career in tourism.
“We believe in the development of our young Jamaicans, especially our bright young Jamaicans, and [guiding] them towards the number-one industry in Jamaica, which is tourism,” he said.
Consequently, Dr. Wallace added, the TEF is “pumping support into things like this national tourism debate, so that the conversation can begin at the high-school level.”