BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS – Over a dozen Caribbean nationals are to receive funding from the region’s tourism development agency, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), to further their knowledge and skills in tourism/hospitality.
The CTO, through its scholarship program, the CTO Foundation, is this year granting scholarships worth US$31,000 to six Caribbean students pursuing studies at the Masters level at various institutions. Two of the scholarships are in the name of Audrey Palmer Hawks, the former head of the Caribbean Tourism Association (the precursor to the CTO), who died in 1987 at age 44.
Hawks, who was dedicated to promoting Caribbean tourism, was born in Guyana but grew up in Grenada. She was a former minister of state for tourism in Grenada, and the first woman and first Caribbean national to head CTA.
One of the scholarships in her name goes to the Grenadian, Diane Whyte, who is pursuing her MSc in Tourism & Hospitality Management at the University of the West Indies.
“This scholarship will assist me in realizing my dream to be qualified to teach at a higher level. In addition, I would have achieved self actualization,” Whyte said.
The second Audrey Palmer Hawks Scholarship has been awarded to Basil Jemmott, a Barbadian student also pursing a Master’s Degree in Tourism & Hospitality Management, but at the University College Birmingham in the UK.
“This scholarship has presented me with an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream in my pursuit of educational excellence. It also provides me with an opportunity to further assist in the development of our tourism product through teaching and training from the knowledge, skills and experience that I will acquire,” said Jemmott.
Three Jamaicans – Synethia Ennis (MBA in International Hospitality & Tourism Management at Schiller International University), Zane Robinson (MSc. in Hospitality Management at Florida International University) and Patricia Smith (MSc. Tourism & Hospitality Management at the University of the West Indies), as well as Trinidadian Priya Ramsumair (MSc in Tourism Development at the University of Surrey), complete the list of scholarship winners.
“This initiative by CTO is a very commendable one and is representative of its continuous commitment to the development of the human resource capacity of the region,” stated Ramsumair.
“It feels great to know that there are organizations out there willing to support the ambitions of young hospitality professionals from the Caribbean,” said Robinson.
“After achieving my MBA, I hope to contribute significantly to the sustainable development of the Caribbean’s tourism product by utilizing my training and fresh perspective,” added Ennis.
Smith, who was also a CTO Foundation Scholarship recipient last year, has her eyes set on lecturing on tourism at the university level.
“I am now looking forward to disseminating my knowledge and experiences to students, policy makers and managers within the tourism industry as I strive to make a significant contribution to the region’s tourism development,” she said.
In addition to the scholarships, the CTO Foundation provided study grants of US$2000 each to seven nationals from Antigua, The Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. Three Caribbean nationals also received a total of US$10,000 in funding to participate in Management of Coastal Recreational Tourism at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies. The total amount in scholarships and grants is US$55,000.
The CTO Foundation, set up in 1997, is registered in New York State as a not-for-profit corporation, formed exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. Its main aim is to provide scholarships and study grants to students and industry personnel who are Caribbean nationals, from CTO-member countries, who wish to pursue studies in the areas of tourism/hospitality and language training. The Foundation supports individuals who demonstrate high levels of academic achievement and leadership potential and who express a strong interest in making a contribution to Caribbean tourism.
Since its inception, the CTO Foundation has provided nearly 50 major scholarships and over 90 study grants. Major CTO Foundation sponsors include American Express, American Airlines, Interval International, Universal Media, the CTO chapters worldwide and numerous CTO allied members.
Information on the CTO Scholarship Programme and a list of scholarship and grant recipients can be found at www.onecaribbean.org.