May 10, 2005 – In the three U.S. Virgin Islands a tropical paradise welcomes every visitor. Warm azure waters, sugary beaches, palm trees blowing in the wind and dropping coconuts ready to be opened up and sipped. Not to mention cosmopolitan shopping, world-class resorts and fine dining.
But all this is easily lost in translation when the visitor hears a curt word from a front desk clerk, or is stuck aboard a taxi in heavy traffic.
In celebration of National Tourism Week, May 7 to 15, a speaker's bureau will address the question "Service vs. Servitude, Are They the Same?" The event will be held at Evans Theater at UVI's St. Croix campus from 10 a.m. until noon Wednesday.
"What is hospitable, what do visitors expect when they go on vacation? It's a refresher discussion on hospitality," said Yolanda Bryan, communications specialist with the Department of Tourism. "There are some issues that it's servitude, not a service. We want to engage in conversation about how it's service that we are providing to the many visitors that come to our shores."
Students from high schools and junior high schools will be attending, as well as Future Business Leaders of America and other youth group organizations. Basically, says Bryan, anyone with "potential tourism careers as well as tourism operators and taxi drivers on the islands" will be part of the audience.
The conference is geared toward every demographic group because, Bryan said, everyone has a part to play. "Those students will be future general managers, future front desk people. We want to capture them and teach them about the industry"
She continued, "If we're serious about tourism in the Virgin Islands we have to employ the industry. We have to give them a feel for what it's about and how to make it happen."
Speakers will include Pamela Richards, commissioner of tourism, and Solomon Kabuka, professor of tourism and management at U.V.I. The keynote address will be from Arnaldo Salinas, senior director of Guardian Angels, New York. Filmmaker Ed Laborde will moderate. Each session will be followed by a question and answer segment.
Bryan says she would like to have video-conferenced the event to St. Thomas, but scheduling conflicts made that difficult. In the meantime, the session will be recorded and aired on the government access television at a later date; channel six on St. Croix and channel 10 on St. Thomas.
"Next year it will be for both islands," said Bryan. "We have to remind ourselves over and over that tourism is the number one industry. We have to stay on top of those who are in the industry."
For more information on National Tourism Week, visit www.usvitourism.vi.
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