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BahamaHost sees significant increase in graduates, trains unemployed youth

  • BahamaHost saw its largest number of graduates to date. Ian Ferguson, director of industry training at the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, said his department went above and beyond to ensure that the program made an even bigger impact this year. MINISTRY OF TOURISM

Published: Jul 17, 2017

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An additional 700 Bahamians are now BahamaHost Certified after successfully completing the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation’s signature training program.

BahamaHost saw its largest number of graduates to date, and Ian Ferguson, director of industry training at the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, said his department went above and beyond to ensure that the program made an even bigger impact this year.

“I gave the mandate to increase our graduating numbers by no less than 20 percent. We have exceeded that number by at least 10 percent. If we continue to merely touch the surface of professionals in the industry then the small rippling waves that we create really fall short of the tsunami effect that we really need. We are well on our way,” said Ferguson.

Participants from the BahamaHost’s Community program were also among the graduates. The program included the Centreville, Englerston, Bains and Grants Town, Pinewood Gardens and Fox Hill communities.

“Last year, the industry training department launched the first ever Community BahamaHost program, which targeted unemployed youth in the inner-city communities with an aim to empowering them. We partnered with various public and private agencies to provide relevant training, including first aid certification, Microsoft Office training, health and wellness, financial empowerment, entrepreneurship, our usual tourism related topics, of course, and many other modules.”

The Family Islands were not left out. Ferguson said that dozens of Bahamians throughout The Islands of The Bahamas are benefitting from the program this year.

“Our Family Islands team has been diligent in covering the islands of The Bahamas with training programs: six sessions on the island of Eleuthera alone, one on Exuma, two sessions on Abaco and more planned for the remainder of the islands. We’re committed to ensuring that service levels remain high on all our Family Islands.”

The Grand Bahama team celebrated 414 graduates on July 13, as it successfully completed 16 general sessions on that island.

“Additionally, they have completed a total of four recertification sessions, with nearly 80 industry professionals refreshing their service skills,” he said.

During the graduation ceremony held at The William Thompson Auditorium, Travis Robinson, parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, reminded the graduates of the integral role they play in the tourism industry.

“The tourism industry is dependent on every single one of you. This country is dependent on every single one of you. We can celebrate our tourism numbers thanks to you, but one thing you would have learned is that there is room for improvement, and that improvement starts with every single one of us. You represent The Bahamas’ brand. You represent a trademark,” said Robinson.

Sheryl Gaitor, a BahamaHost graduate, said she went into the program thinking it was simply a refresher course on what she learned many years ago, but she said it exceeded her expectations.

“It was a transformative experience. When I got in the class, I learned so much more and it developed a hunger for me to learn more about my country. It also drove me to push and encourage others, because sitting in those classes, it opens your eyes and gives you a greater appreciation for the contribution you make as a citizen to your country in the development of your country,” she said.

As an entrepreneur in the tourism industry, graduate Brent Ferguson was mandated to do the course; he said he had no expectations.

“I did it because it was a requirement to open a franchise. I got a wealth of information. Some of it was taught during high school, but not as much Bahamian history or diversifying the Bahamian product, skills needed to market oneself. I got a wealth of information from doing this course. I will definitely recommend and do it again,” he said.

The BahamaHost program is a certified course designed to establish a culture of service excellence and professionalism which ultimately results in delightful guest experiences, repeat business and global recognition. This program is a training initiative designed to improve the efficiency of organizations and service professionals in the tourism sector.

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