|By Mutryce A. Williams, Caribbean News
Now, Grand Cayman, Cayman IslandsMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 18, 2012--As West Indians we often ask, "What can I do to promote my country? How can I make a contribution to my country? How can I play a meaningful role to my nation's tourism industry?" I vote for learning everything that there is to know about your country, so that you can be a knowledgeable and astute ambassador when the time arrives.
As individuals, we tend to boast about our accomplishments, sporting prowess, possessions, children, even our cooking! Why not boast about the land of our birth? As West Indians we claim to be a proud people. We are a people who should be proud of our heritage, a people who should be proud to be called West Indians; hence we should exhaust all possible avenues when we encounter a foreigner in order to sell or promote our country.
As an ardent traveler, I am often bombarded with questions and assumptions: "That accent is Jamaican, isn't it? Are you from Haiti, quite possibly the Bahamas?" I stand at attention, look the individual in the eye, and proudly respond, "I am from the 68 square mile twin island federation of St Kitts-Nevis. An island paradise situated in the northeastern Caribbean with a population of 45,000. My nationality, I can tell you that I am West Indian or simply Kittitian." In anticipation of the other question or comment, I say, "No sir/madam, my island is not just sun, sand and sea. No sir/madam, all the Caribbean islands are not the same. Although we are all beautiful, we are each unique in our own little way."
I often hear fellow Kittitians/Nevisians simply dismiss the twin island paradise with a trite response, "Oh it is near Jamaica or the USVI?" The excuse is, "Well everybody knows Jamaica. They wouldn't know where St Kitts-Nevis is anyway. I don't have time to go into all that geography or history lessons." This is the perfect opportunity to share. This is the perfect opportunity to promote your country. We all know that we ought to have our "elevator pitch" as it refers to promoting or advancing our careers, why not have that "elevator pitch", so to speak, when provided with the opportunity to share about the country from which we originate, a country that has given us so much, a country that is in need of those tourism dollars, especially in these arduous economic times?
Again I think that it is our duty to inform, to promote and boast about our island paradise. Our Garden of Eden isn't just a dot on the map or an insignificant nothing. Our Garden of Eden boasts a unique sect of people with their own virtues and values. Our Garden of Eden is a volcanic wonder, with unimaginably picturesque views, and lush green cane fields cascading the undulating land. Our island paradise is rich in history, a history that is incorporated into our everyday life, and the architecture, the palatable dishes. I can go on.
These suggestions can go a long way in promoting your country when traveling abroad.
--When you travel flash or exhibit your passport. People are always curious about the passport of other nations. Volunteer to show off your passport. The coat of arms is inside; let the person have a read. Share some knowledge.
--Take a few magazines or brochures with you when you are traveling. Distribute them while you are in transit or on the airport. These may be obtained free of cost at the Department of Tourism.
--Memorize the telephone number for the Ministry of Tourism, so that the eager tourist could call and enquire.
--When traveling wear an article of clothing inscribed with your country's name on it. In my case I always wear something that has St Kitts and Nevis on it. This is a simple form of advertisement. It may cost you EC$25, but it may generate mass revenue for your country.
--Every West Indian/Kitti-Nevisian should own a pin, with the national flag. Be proud of your country. Wear the pin when traveling. If asked to explain the meaning of the flag, humbly oblige.
--Strike up a conversation especially if you get bored in transit. In your deepest West Indian/ Kitti-Nevisian accent simply say, "Excuse me! How are you today? This may spark a conversation. In your conversation, put COUNTRY ABOVE SELF, volunteer information about your country.
--We are in the information age. Encourage the traveler to do an Internet or Google search of your country. A search for St Kitts and Nevis turned up the website http://www.stkittstourism.kn/. Information is in the palm of your hand. It is at the click of a button. Peruse the web with the traveler; use the opportunity to dispel any negative images or concerns that may arise as a result of the search.
--Finally NEVER leave the conversation without inviting the traveler to visit your country. I often hear, "I have taken a cruise and gone to Grenada or St Lucia and they were nice." I would reply, "That is absolutely great. They are both beautiful islands; however I urge you, schedule your next vacation for St Kitts and Nevis. Be sure to visit Brimstone Hill, Black Rocks, Caribelle Batik, the Carib Rock Drawings, the Rawlins Plantation Inn, and please don't forget to spend at least a day in Nevis, it would definitely be worth your while."
As West Indians we often ask, "What can I do to promote my country? How can I make a contribution to my country? How can I play a meaningful role to my nation's tourism industry?" I vote for learning everything that there is to know about your country, so that you can be a knowledgeable and astute ambassador when the time arrives.
(c)2012 the Caribbean News Now (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands)
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