|By Constance Cooper, The Virgin Islands
Daily News, St. ThomasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 28, 2009--"Tourism is the lifeblood of the Caribbean," said Richard Kahn, who sits on the board of directors of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Education Foundation.
But to keep that blood pumping, islands need educated, skilled hospitality professionals, which is why his foundation has given more than $1 million in scholarships to Caribbean natives looking to pursue a career in hospitality.
The 2010 scholarship application process has begun, and the foundation is encouraging students interested in looking for a future in hospitality, from culinary careers to hotel management, to apply.
Last year, $119,000 in scholarships were given to 30 students. Kahn said there are no set eligibility requirements, since awards are dependent on the pool of applicants.
"We tell everyone apply, even if you don't believe you're the most qualified person," Kahn said. "We will get some students that are not the best, and yet need assistance, so we'll qualify them. It's based on the entire pool."
The amount of the scholarships depends on the school to which a student is applying, with larger scholarships awarded to those students attending pricier schools.
In addition to scholarships, this year the foundation will be offering internships in sustainable tourism for students and industry professionals with Yucatan Holidays, in Mexico.
Kahn said the scholarships offer as much benefit to the association's 725 members as they do to the students who receive them.
"We want to make sure the resorts that we're sending our people to are well-run and well-maintained," Kahn said. "It takes a lot of HR manpower to maintain the tourism industry in the Caribbean."
The scholarships are open to individuals born in the Caribbean or who have lived in the Caribbean for a significant amount of time. Application forms can be downloaded at www.chtaeducationfoundation.com and will be accepted through March 12.
-Contact reporter Constance Cooper at 774-8772 ext. 364 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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