Jamaican hospitality students study in Toronto

By RON FANFAIR

Doing a wine tasting seminar at George Brown College last week rather than sipping wine to celebrate her birthday was an acceptable option for Serthine Bailey.

The birthday celebrations can take place after she graduates in December with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management from Western Hospitality Institute (WHI) in Jamaica.

Bailey’s among a batch of students in Toronto engaged in a nine-week program jointly offered by the WHI and the Constellation College of Hospitality.

“Your birthday is always a special day but I would much prefer to be here today gaining knowledge that will help me in the career that I am pursuing,” said Bailey who is a receptionist at Milk River Mineral Spa in Clarendon. “I entered the program to acquire the skills that would help me reach my goal of securing a tourism management position. I just have a few months left to complete the program.”

The graduates are expected to fill management positions in Jamaica’s growing tourism sector that tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett, acknowledges represents the country’s only hope in these challenging economic times.

Room capacity, ranging from economical to five-star, is expected to increase by 10,000 to 34,000 in the next three years.

Shalimar Legister, who worked as a floor manager with Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant and nightclub in Jamaica, said the impending growth in the industry appealed to her.

“I chose this career because I love the service industry and I recognized this is where some of the good jobs are going to be,” said Legister who will also graduate later this year. “I aspire to work in human relations because I feel it’s important to take care of your staff because those are the frontline people who are always in contact with guests and tourists.”

Omar Smith, the dean of the WHI in charge of academic affairs, said the two-year summer-program in Canada is unique and different.

“The students have an opportunity to travel to an international tourist destination as part of their professional and personal development,” he said. “While in Canada, they are exposed to a wide variety of products and services that the Toronto market has to offer, and they can now compare and contrast that with what they have locally. When the final year students go back, they are ready to hold supervisory positions in the sector.”

The summer school syllabus in Toronto includes Research Management Marketing Matrixes and Applications, Financial Planning and Management, Hotel/Resort Development, Paradigm Shift and Future Trends and French as a Second Language.

The majority of the students receive institutional scholarships to cover tuition, accommodation and food costs for the 18 weeks they spend in Toronto in the summer over a two-year period.

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