School students excited about the tourism industry through ‘Adopt a student’ programme |26 September 2019
Students and school representatives from across the country congregated at the STC conference centre on Tuesday morning for the ‘Adopt a Student forum’, an activity organised as part of the second Tourism Festival being celebrated from September 21 to September 27.
The meet was attended by officials from the department of tourism, the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) as well as officials from different tourist establishments who adopted school students over the August school holidays and introduced them to various departments within the hotels in the hopes that the students will learn more about the industry from the hands-on experience, and in future opt for a career in tourism.
Several groups of students took to explaining and outlining their experiences at hotel establishments including Savoy Resort and Spa, Constance Ephelia Resort, Avani Seychelles Barbarons Resort and Spa and the Hilton group of hotels in Seychelles, among others.
Principal secretary in the department of tourism, Anne Lafortune, highlighted that the programme started last year during the first Tourism Festival whereby a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development where it was decided that more activities will be organised to involve youths with tourism in a bid to increase their knowledge and awareness of the sector, the number one pillar of the Seychelles economy.
“This year, during the August school holidays, students were selected by the ministry and we chose the hotel establishments where they were adopted by a hotel for one or two days. They had the opportunity to go through all departments and to see first-hand how such departments function. Today we have a forum, where all the students who took part in the programme will recount their experiences, what they were expecting, what they saw, what aspects they enjoyed, what they have learnt, what they did and what they most appreciated in the tourism industry,” PS Lafortune said.
“We will also have human resource officer or management from the respective hotels come to tell us what they offered to the students, how they adapted to the surroundings. As audience members are all school representatives from all public schools across the country, this will bring more awareness for all school students to understand how tourism is important to Seychelles, to the local economy so they also can opt for a career in tourism in future,” PS Lafortune stated.
PS Lafortune noted that it is too early to evaluate whether youth interest in the tourism sector has increased from last year but noted that the emphasis is not to encourage more youths and students to join the industry but that the emphasis is on developing a passion for the industry.
“There is a lot of interest to study at the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) but what are lacking is students that really have tourism at heart. Often times, once they graduate from STA, they do not join the industry so we want to start exposing them early so when they join STA, we have students who are aware and knowledgeable about the industry and who are committed to a career in tourism,” PS Lafortune added.
Students were adopted by hotels situated within the same districts as their respective school establishments.
A group of students from Beau Vallon secondary school were adopted at Savoy Seychelles Resort and Spa, an upmarket resort located next to the popular Beau Vallon beach and which boasts the largest swimming pool in Seychelles.
Student Asha Chang-Peng-Tive noted that her group were introduced and received basic training to carry out tasks within the front office, spa and housekeeping department.
“We learned a lot about the hotel itself, visited the three restaurants and were shown how to do different tasks such as answering telephone calls the right way, folding towels decoratively and greeting guests. It was very enjoyable and all my colleagues and I enjoyed it. We want to thank the management for having us and teaching us about their work,” she said.
Leah Celestine, a student from Anse Boileau secondary school, was adopted by Constance Ephelia Resort along with 8 other peers. They were placed in different departments including maintenance, engineering, kitchen and front office. She noted that they all thoroughly enjoyed the experience and felt as though they were one of the employees on account that they were given uniforms.
There was general consensus and expression of support for the initiative from the management and human resource officers who were also present to share their experiences working with the students.
General manager of Savoy Resort and Spa, Derek Barbe, congratulated the students who spent their two days at Savoy and emphasised the importance of exposing youngsters to the working environment as early as possible stating that “it is the best way for them to learn”.
In most establishments, students not only got to enjoy the experience in the shoes of an employee, but they were also treated as guests. Those who were adopted by the Hilton Labriz hotel were invited to stay over on the island, and received guest treatment including a highly-exclusive painting class.
Students from Praslin were also adopted by L’Archipel Hotel and Constance Lemuria Praslin Seychelles where they too, learned to cook, make cocktails and mocktails and learned to play golf.
The tourism Festival is set to close on Friday September 27.