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POSITIVE YOUTH: Tourism is his business

Lisa King

POSITIVE YOUTH: Tourism is his business

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He has a love for business, but that is outweighed by his fondness for tourism. So Jason Yearwood intends to combine the two and start a business sometime in the future.
The 22-year-old former Queen’s College student has just begun working at Divi Southwinds Resort, having had his interest in the industry solidified during his stint as junior tourism minister for Barbados at the Caribbean Tourism Youth Congress in 2008.
He told the MIDWEEK NATION he was not keen on conventional business pursuits like accounts and studying general management and the like because “everyone does that”.  
That introduction to tourism showed him a different side to business.
Allows for creativity
“Yes, it contains accounts and management, but it allows for creativity and branching out,”?he said.
“It allows for some freedom – I call it controlled freedom –so we are not stuck doing balance sheets all the time.”
He spoke fondly of his participation at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO)-sponsored regional youth congress after placing second in the national contest. As junior minister, he was also able to give speeches and attend functions; the most memorable being at Ilaro Court under the patronage of late Prime Minister David Thompson.  
Having pursued a bachelor of science in degree in tourism management at the University of the West Indies, Yearwood also had the opportunity to do an internship at CTO’s New York Office as part of the requirements for the programme. That, he said, was an eye-opening experience as to what tourism entailed on an international scale.
“It was great because I was able to see what they do out there in terms of pushing the Caribbean nations that come under that organisation by showing what each Caribbean has to offer. It showed me too that tourism is vast . . . . I was able to make contacts as far as Nigeria.”
Now that he is back in Barbados, Yearwood said that ideally he would like to work full-time in tourism in a sports-related capacity, given his love for sport and the way sports tourism has taken off.
He said Barbados needed to capitalise on the different forms of tourism taking shape around the world. He conceded that it had made some progress in health, sports and heritage/cultural tourism as a step away from the traditional sun, sand and sea that many destinations offered.
Even Japan, he added, had used science and technology to create beaches.
“Barbados and all the Caribbean have a history that is important, it is unique and no other has a history like us,” he said. “St Lucia changed colonial hands 14 times, the different languages, patois and twang, the food, culture. There are the natural attractions like waterfalls, hot springs, volcanoes and the people, but there is a need for new business ideas that take full advantage of what comes natural to Barbados and the Caribbean.”
Yearwood said business opportunities abounded, but it called for the right ideas and the right presentation to get them off the ground.
“It is not a case where there is no money in the economy; it is a case where the ideas that are out there are not being sold. If I come to you with a good idea and I give you a not so good presentation, you are not going to buy into it. However, if I come to you and show you the profit that can be made despite the economic challenges, once you can see the returns coming you will invest.”  
That is where the youth come in, Yearwood said. He said fresh ideas on emerging trends would be the way forward for the tourism.
Therefore, he is in the process of writing a proposal to take to the CTO to canvass for the establishment of a youth arm of the organisation to get young people involved.  
“That way we can liaison, build awareness and get ideas for economic gain.”  
• Positive Youth is a series highlighting the efforts of some of the youth in our nation who are engaging in positive pursuits. If you know of any such people, please contact Natasha Beckles at 430-5459 or [email protected]; or Bryan Walker at 430-5492 or [email protected]