October 29, 2020

Top debate student is new tourism ambassador


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Jaida Alexander (second, right), winner of the 2011 Tourism Speak Off and new ‘Tourism Ambassador’, is congratulated by Hon. Cline Glidden, Councillor for Tourism, Miss Cayman, Lindsay Japal and her fellow debaters, Sabrina Weber, Jenna Hydes and Ashley Christian.

Jaida Alexander, a student of John Gray High School, topped the 2011 Tourism Speak Off school’s debating competition held at the Grand Cayman Marriott on Tuesday, 27 September and was crowned ‘Tourism Ambassador’, to serve for a period of one year.

Three other students – Sabrina Weber, Jenna Hydes and Ashley Christian, all representing Grace Christian Academy — participated in the finals of the Tourism Speak Off, a programme to encourage and reward tourism awareness among high school students and to ensure that they are educated about the issues that affect the industry locally and internationally. The four finalists emerged from 27 students who submitted entries to qualify to take part in the final round of the competition.

In the first round of the three-round finals of the 2011 Tourism Speak Off, the four contestants were required to share their ideas on an ICT project that they would recommend to benefit tourism in the Cayman Islands. In round two, the debate focused on community tourism — how local communities benefit from the industry and in turn, how tourists benefit from local communities.

In round three, the students presented their ideas on a mystery topic, taken from the original essays they had submitted to enter the competition. The essay topic was, “What can we do for the preservation and conservation of our culture and heritage,” and the debaters were required to develop a programme to address two areas that were highlighted in their essays.

Tourism Ambassador, Jaida Alexander (centre) shares a moment with Hon. Cline Glidden, Councillor for Tourism and Miss Cayman, Lindsay Japal

In addition to being named ‘Tourism Ambassador’, Jaida received the winner’s trophy, a cheque for $1,000 from the Ministry and Department of Tourism and Cayman Islands Tourism Association and two airline tickets on Cayman Airways. As ‘Tourism Ambassador’, she will participate in special industry activities including the Department of Tourism events, the Tourism Stingray Awards and Tourism Exchange.

First runner-up was Ashley Christian, who also received a trophy and a cheque for $500 from the Ministry and Department of Tourism; second runner-up was Jenna Hydes, who received a trophy and a $100 voucher for Michael’s Genuine Restaurant at Camana Bay. The fourth finalist received a prize pack from the Department of Tourism.

Offering his congratulations and support to the winner and other finalists, Premier McKeeva Bush stated, “It is so encouraging to see the interest and high standard of research, argument and presentation that these students have brought to this year’s Tourism Speak Off. I heartily congratulate all of them for their efforts and in particular, thank their parents and teachers for encouraging and supporting them to take such an interest in tourism. I wish Jaida Alexander all the very best over the course of the next year, as she represents herself and her school as our young Tourism Ambassador.”

Councillor for Tourism, Hon Cline Glidden, who was among a large and enthusiastic crowd of students, parents, teachers and tourism partners at the debate, also congratulated the winners.

President of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, Harry Lalli (right) with Tourism Ambassador, Jaida Alexander (centre) and Miss Cayman, Lindsay Japal

“Tourism Speak Off has been an important part of the educational outreach of the Ministry and Department of Tourism and I am happy to see that this year’s event has recorded the highest number of entries since the inception of the programme. This suggests that our students are keenly interested in the subject and in the opportunities that this programme presents. I offer my congratulations to the winner and all the finalists and hope that this will mark the beginning of their continued interest in tourism,” he stated.

Judges for the competition were Miss Cayman Islands, Lindsay Japal, Annick Jackman, Events Marketing Representative at the Department of Tourism and Clive Baker from the Ministry of Education.

The Tourism Speak Off Competition has been a part of the Department of Tourism’s local tourism awareness programme since 2003. After a three-year hiatus, the programme was revamped and relaunched this year to include a ‘Tourism Ambassador’ designation, in place of the Junior Minister for Tourism’ title that the winner received in previous years.

In addition to promoting tourism awareness, the programme’s objective is to assist young students to develop useful communication, reasoning and public speaking skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

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