Greetings! fellow subscribers, as the season of Lent comes to an end, I say congratulations to those who were able to follow through on their promises – for those who didn’t quite make it, kudos for trying. During the easter celebrations, I hope that you did not forget to share our spicy plantain, saltfish with the coconut dumplings with our visitors as they follow their hearts to St. Kitts.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) conducted a training session for assessors during the week of February 26th – March 2nd, 2018 at the Ocean Terrance Inn (OTI) Conference Room from 9 am – 5 pmdaily. This programme promotes a culture of service and business excellence that was developed specifically for tourism and tourism-related businesses. The workshop also was done to train participants to meet the knowledge requirements that will enable them to provide the services of assessors for the Hospitality Assured programme.
The assessor is someone who is allowed to come in to someone’s business to assess their properties, in guiding them to meet the level of service excellence. There are nine (9) steps and forty-four (44) critieria in which the assessment must be guided by. These steps are done through a quality map which is:
The Customer Service Promise
Business Leadership and Planning
Operational Planning and Standards of Performance
Training and Development
Customer Satisfaction Improvement
The Hospitality Assured certification is beneficial in helping the businesses to improve quality standards on a continuous basis, to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, to improve staff morale, to reduce staff turnover, to increase market share, to enhance your marketability and generate great public relations and to develop service ideals, values, and principles that support a culture of excellence.
PLANTAIN announced as the theme ingredient for
Restaurant Week 2018
The pots are bubbling with local flavours as excitement builds for the 2018 edition of Restaurant Week slated for July 20 – 29. Word is now out that the theme ingredient for this year’s challenge is PLANTAIN.
The theme ingredient was disclosed during the Opening Ceremony of the Nevis Department of Agriculture’s 24th Annual Open Day on Thursday 22nd March. It was met with glorious applause as potential competitors of the challenge relish the idea of producing a dish from such a versatile fruit. The brain-boosting, immune-building fruit helps regulate the digestive system in addition to providing a number of other vital health benefits.
In making the announcement, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Nevis Ministry of Tourism, Mr. John Hanley extended an invitation to all citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis to participate in this year’s Plantain Challenge. Noting that the deadline to register to enter a Plantain Dish in any of the three categories – Beverage, Entrée or Appetizer or Dessert is April 25th 2018. However, the first round of judging by taste test is carded for Saturday, May 12th at the Department of Agriculture Conference Room in Basseterre.
On this date competitors are expected to submit the Plantain Dish accompanied by the name and recipe for judging. The three top finalists of the Plantain Appetizer, Entrée and Dessert categories will advance to the live cook off competition. The Plantain Challenge is only one activity designed to create awareness of and participation in Restaurant Week and to stimulate wide public involvement in enjoying local culture and cuisine while benefiting from reduced menu prices. Restaurant Week patrons are also encouraged to support local food producers including farmers and agri-processors by encouraging local sourcing of ingredients over imports.
St. Kitts and Nevis Restaurant Week now, in its fourth year, is truly a Federation wide partnership, organized by the St. Kitts and Nevis Ministries of Tourism, Tourism Authorities, Ministries of Agriculture and the Hotel and Tourism Association.
For more information on the 2018 Restaurant Week and the Plantain Challenge specifically please visit www.restaurantweek.kn
Organizers of the 22nd Annual St. Kitts Music Festival are expecting a high degree of involvement as a result of the early start of preparations, including the release of the full slate of artistes for the June 28 – 30 musical extravaganza.
Under the direction of the newly appointed Chairman, Mr. Damion Hobson, the festival announced the first wave of artistes (Spice, Patti LaBelle, and Ms. Lauryn Hill) in mid-December, 2017 and quickly followed with the final slate of artistes on February 16th, 2018 during a public launch in downtown, Basseterre.
Chairman Hobson noted that the early start will definitely boost tourist arrivals for the festival period as potential visitors would have in excess of six months to adequately plan and prepare to be in St. Kitts. The intention, he added is not just to be in St. Kitts for the three main concerts but rather to experience the “real St. Kitts” that includes the many fringe activities such as Escape to Salt Plage, White Sands at Carambola and the many other offerings that are available.
Now that the artistes have been released, plans are well afoot to finalize details relative to production, venue layout and operations, Security, Promotions and anticipated fringe activities. Several meetings have been convened with key sub-committees, stakeholders and service providers to advance preparations for the June 27th-July 1st event.
To ensure that all details for the festival are adequately addressed, there are several sub-committees and working groups which have been arranged with specific duties and responsibilities. These volunteers whom have been with the festival for years, are our strategists and event planners. Likewise, many of the new team members are no strangers to planning national events and transforming to this routine with ease.
Volunteers are currently working feverishly to design a bold, fresh, layout of the festival venue at Warner Park to complement innovative new production ideas that would make the festival more exciting and musically rewarding. Others are meeting with key partners to negotiate mutually beneficial sponsorship arrangements while vendors and other service providers are being recruited.
A quick look at the numbers for the St. Kitts Music Festival shed much light on why it is necessary to start
preparations early and why it takes so many volunteers working in concert for so many months to stage the festival successfully.
Last year the festival had performance stages at Warner Park, Independence Square, Spice Mill and periodically throughout Basseterre.These stages had to be assembled and managed; there were food and beverage stalls at the main venue, sponsorship tents and at least three VIP Suites were constructed, decorated and supplied with electricity and water. Additionally, several high-maintenance hospitality areas for artistes and media were in operation.
The cost of these extensive, planning and operational logistics plus an increase in airfares for performers over the years warrant the slight adjustment in entrance fees this year from $100 to $135. However, patrons can benefit from a reduced ticket price if a purchase is made on line at www.stkittsmusicfestival.net prior to the month of June.
The St. Kitts Music Festival was established as a premier event on the local and regional calendar to serve as a catalyst during the traditionally slow season while motivating our musicians and artistes to excellence in an atmosphere that combines the vitality of youth with the experience of legendary artistes.
Ministry of Tourism Promotes Etiquette Sessions in Classes
Approximately 220 students of the Tyrell Williams, Dr. William Connor, Tucker Clarke and Sandy Point Primary Schools combined, completed a two-week program of Etiquette training which ended on 16th March, 2018. The sessions comprised both theory and practical sessions.
The training sessions were designed to empower the students to develop strong social skills that will transform them into leaders of tomorrow. The pleasurable and interactive session helped students to understand and appreciate the value of proper behavior, self-respect, honesty, integrity, getting along with others and proper table manners.
Topics such as Using Kind Words and Phrases, Public Manners, Treating Others with Respect and Kindness, Behavior in Everyday Situations, Eye Contact, Sitting Properly, Posture at the Table, Table Settings, Silverware Placement, Napkin Placement, Handling Utensils, Dining Do’s and Don’ts, Passing Items Around the Table, Basic Table Manners, Proper Way to Butter and Eat Bread, Interacting with Servers, Excusing Yourself from the Table were discussed.
Ms. Welcome stated that etiquette sessions will continue with the Basseterre High School and the Advnced Vocational Education Centre later in the year.
Basseterre High School Students Recognizedat Presentation Ceremony
Students of the Basseterre High School, who are involved in the 2017-2018 Tourism Education Programme, received Certificates of Participation at a Presentation Ceremony at the school on Monday, 19th March, 2018. The students were recognized for their involvement, attendance at classes and general input in the programme.
Delivering remarks at the ceremony, Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Carlene Henry-Morton highlighted the important role the Tourism Industry plays in the growth and development of our country. She referred to the robust performance of the cruise sector, mentioning that St. Kitts is expecting to receive over 1.2 million cruise passengers by the end of the 2017-2018 cruise season. The Permanent Secretary also spoke of the new projects that have come on stream such as the Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour and highlighted the fact that construction is expected to commence shortly on a number of new resorts. These include the Ritz Carlton Resort at Friar’s Bay and Six Senses at La Valée.
She challenged the students to see tourism as a viable career option, mentioning that with the growth of the tourism sector, many job opportunities will be created. The Tourism Education Programme is therefore geared at preparing our youth for the tourism sector.
Tourism Research Officer, Mrs. Therez Ambrose-Versailles assisted Mrs. Morton with the distribution of the certificates. Tourism Education Officer, Miss Katarice Thomas and Tourism Officer, Miss Miranda Francis announced the names of the students while Intern of the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP), Miss Raedawn Thomas, chaired the ceremony. Senior Tourism Projects Officer, Ms. Novelette Morton spoke about the Tourism Education Programme, pointing out that six (6) schools are involved: Dr. William Connor, Sandy Point, Tyrell Williams and Tucker Clarke Primary Schools as well as the Basseterre High School and the Advanced Vocational Education Centre
Department Head of Social Studies, Mrs. Trisha Benjamin gave brief remarks and mentioned that the school was pleased to partner with the Ministry of Tourism in offering Tourism Education to some of the students. Taiwanese volunteer and Community Tourism Assistant, Miss Tina Wang videotaped the ceremony and took photographs of the students receiving their certificates. The Vote of Thanks was given by a student, Miss Renée Stapleton.
The Certificate of Participation Presentation Ceremony was just one activity organized by the Ministry of Tourism to reward the students for their hard work and to stimulate their interest in this important sector.
The Ministry of Tourism is presently preparing to host the annual Tourism Youth Congress competition for the high school students on Friday 27th April, 2018 from 8:30am – 12 noonat The St. Kitts Marriott Resort. The six high schools namely: Cayon High, Charles E. Mills Secondary, Basseterre High, Saddlers Secondary, Washington Archibald High and the Saddlers Secondary have shown interest in participating and to this date we have successfully completed our first training session which has been geared towards relaying important information that can assist the students in their research and preparation for any of the three topics chosen by CTO which are:
Virtual Reality and Tourism—Enticing a new generation of Explorers
Developing Smart and Sustainable Caribbean Countries – Building Back Better
Year of Wellness and Rejuvenation –Enhancing the Caribbean’s Tourism Product Offerings.
The Tourism Youth Congress is structured to mirror a CTO Board of Directors’ Meeting where each student will be vying for the title of Junior Minister. Upon completion of the local competition the Junior Minister of Tourism representing St. Kitts will then compete in the Regional Tourism Youth Congress to be held during the State of the Industry Conference which will be held this year in The Bahamas around September/October. This forum again would allow the Junior Ministers of Tourism to give their views on one of the selected topics and respond to a “mystery” question.
The Anti-Doping workshop was held at the Ocean Terrace Inn and ran from 21st to 23rd February. Both Mrs. Diannille Taylor-Williams and Mrs. Therez Ambrose-Versailles were representatives of the Ministry of Tourism for this three (3) day workshop. The regional workshop was aimed at designing and implementing of the National Drug Strategies and Plans for the Caribbean. Its objective was to update the current strategies in the Caribbean and where possible support the current design and development, provide technical assistance and promote horizontal cooperation. The workshop was made possible by the collaborative efforts carried out under the leadership of the Executive Secretariat on the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), Secretariat for Multidimensional Security, Organization of American State (OAS), the CARICOM Secretariat and the Secretariat of Drug Abuse Prevention of the National Council of St Kitts and Nevis.
Like St. Kitts and Nevis, member states along with several Caribbean countries have national drug policies however it was highlighted in the workshop that many of the policies are about to expire or require improvement.
The lead workshop facilitator was Mr. John Carnevale an internationally recognized expert in the field of drug policy who served three (3) administrations and four (4) “Drug Czars” within the Executive Branch of the United States Government.
Present was Ms. Ester Best, Manager of Trinidad and Tobago National Drug Council who gave a synopsis of how they were able to establish their council and in turn, formulate a policy. The presentation highlighted the struggles they endured to remain relevant and how a change in government regime can influence the success of their organization’s mandate. Barbados’ representative gave a similar testimonial and summarized what they are doing to advance their policy. St. Vincent is on the verge of establishing their drug council and expressed how happy they were to engage in these types of roundtable discussions.
Other presenters also provided invaluable information to the participants on the resources available to aid in the designing and implementation of the drug policy.
Guests were given a chance to relax and enjoy the taste and sounds of St Kitts when they were treated to a cocktail held on the premises of the Ocean Terrace Inn.
In 2015, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Commission, with support from the World Bank, conceptualized a project to develop a harmonized framework for collecting and reporting tourism market intelligence data in the OECS. Therefore, St. Kitts has joined its regional partners by engaging in a pilot programme to harmonize its tourism marketing intelligence platform.
Previously, workshops were held on Island to equip staff members in the Ministry of Tourism, the St. Kitts Tourism Authority and other partner agencies with the knowledge to navigate the Tourism Market Intelligence operating system. Most recently a one-day workshop was held at the Ministry of Tourism with Mr. Kevin Millington, Director of Acorn Tourism Consulting Ltd, facilitating the day’s session.
The workshop was interactive where participants were given an opportunity to explore the system. The participants were instructed on how to develop and customize surveys according to use. The system also came equipped with survey templates which are:
3) Visitor Yacht
4) Exit surveys.
Mr. Millington expressed that the templates were created based on survey formats utilized by the Business Research and Economic Advisors.
Mock surveys were then created, answered on the spot and the data analyzed based on the information represented on the dashboard.
The session ended on a high note with the participants giving positive feedback on the ease of navigating the programme. Appreciation was also given to the fact that the Ministry of Tourism and by extension the St. Kitts Tourism Authority will be fulfilling its sustainability mandate where, by digitizing the data collection process, paper use will be minimized.
The Ministry of Tourism was represented in a two-day workshop, March 8 and 9 by Assistant Secretary, Mrs. Diannille Taylor-Williams. The workshop, hosted by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) through its Communications Committee and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), was a Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) Jump Start which is described as “an international standard for disseminating warnings/alerts/notifications”. CAP which is a freeware digital messaging system, has been adopted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) since 2010.
Mr Lesroy Williams, Director of SKNIS, who chaired the opening ceremony gave brief welcome remarks where he focused on the role of the media in Disaster Management. He stressed that information must be accurate, consistent, repetitive and reliable. According to Mr Williams, “Media must be a catalyst of bringing community together in action especially in communities at risk”.
During the workshop, participants were introduced to the CAP and its benefits by the main facilitator, Mr. Eliot Christian, after having examined the challenges and opportunities which make the system successful in other destinations. Mr. Christian explained that CAP is a standard business form for the purpose of alerting which can be used over any and all media, for any and all hazards and to anyone, whether the public at large, designated groups or specific people.
One of the main identified benefits of CAP is that it provides for consistency in message over multiple channels which allows for exact corroboration of the alert information. Important to note is the fact that CAP is not limited to being used for natural disasters but also for hazards including being used by Public Works to alert about roadworks (as done in Jamaica) or for traffic alerts.
Participants were also exposed to examples of CAP at work in other jurisdictions and ways it could be integrated into alert systems using diverse media to expand its reach.
Local Met Officer, Mr Elmo Burke, helped to put the CAP into context on the local level during his presentation on the current state of alerting systems within the Federation. Mr Burke used examples of what had taken place during our last hurricane season especially in relation to Hurricanes Irma and Maria when most of the radio stations were not available for making Public Service Announcements. It was quite evident that there is a need to improve our current situation to mitigate the challenges of failed communication and loss of life and property.
Having looked at what is involved in implementing the source of CAP alert for authenticity and, what is necessary to publish a CAP Alert News Feed, the facilitator next dealt with the actual tool used in creating CAP Alerts. Workshop participants were invited to install the tool to their laptops and to simulate the creation of an alert. The workshop facilitator described the requirements for the local configuration of the system in order to make it fit for purpose. On the second day, the discussions centred around how an Alerting Authority is registered, the technical perspective involved in implementing CAP in the Federation as well as the set-up of a local implementation committee. It was agreed that the committee is necessary and it is to be co-chaired by NEMA, Police and the Met Office who are the recognised authorities in relation to natural disasters.
Overall, the training went quite well. There was much excitement about the prospect of introducing this tool by the attendees who were drawn from various agencies on both islands including Police, Fire & Rescue Services, Red Cross, HAM Radio Society and Health among others. When asked about her experience, Mrs Williams said that she is looking forward with great anticipation and expectation to the implementation of CAP locally. This tool, she said, helps us in Tourism to ensure that the information going out is accurate and it would do much to reduce the impacts of misinformation on our very young tourism industry.