New Junior Minister of Tourism

| 22/10/2008

(CNS): For the third year in a row, a student from Cayman Brac High School (CBHS) has been selected to hold the post of Junior Minister of Tourism after winning the 2008 Ministry and Department of Tourism Speak-Off Competition, held last Friday, 17 October. Karthika Velusamy proved herself to be an expert debater after successfully arguing her position on the three given topics. (Photo: 2007-2008 Junior Minister of Tourism Myfanwy Leggatt  – left – presents Karthika Velusamy with her winning plaque)

According to a release from the DoT, the Competition was held in the Multi-Purpose Hall at the University College of the Cayman Islands and housed a crowd eager to learn who the new Junior Minister would be for the coming year. The three contenders were Andrel Harris (John Gray High School), Jovonnie Anglin (CBHS) and the new Junior Minister of Tourism, Karthika Velusamy.

Prior to the competition the participants were given two of the three topics in order to effectively prepare their speaking points. Students were allocated two minutes to argue their position on each topic to the officials judging the Competition.

The first topic was “Climate Change and the impact on Cayman Islands tourism” and the young debaters were asked to discuss what two major ideas or activities they would recommend in order to put a serious focus on climate change in the Cayman Islands.

Second, they were asked to discuss what measures they would recommend putting into place to encourage more young people to seriously consider lending their talents to build and grow Cayman Islands tourism for the betterment of the country. Every participant felt that properly educating young Caymanians was key to attracting Cayman Islands youth to view tourism as a viable career option. Karthika also spoke about the DOT’s Tourism Apprenticeship Training Programme, referring to recent graduate Bethany Ebanks whose dream of becoming a pastry chef has become a reality because of the Programme.

Additionally, a mystery topic was asked and each student was given one minute to prepare their thoughts and 90 seconds to respond to the topic. The three participants were asked to pretend that they were the Cayman Islands Chief Minister and discuss what two or three measures they would recommend that Government put in place to significantly boost tourism in the Cayman Islands over the next 12 to 18 months.

With three winning arguments, Karthika proposed offering travel packages to all three islands to increase revenues and the value appeal to visitors. She also discussed increasing the number of cruise arrivals, as well as the use of public transportation so that visitors could avoid spending money on car rentals. Andrel discussed reducing the cost of airfares and increasing the production of locally-made goods to act as inexpensive keep-sakes for the visitor; while Jovonnie felt encouraging the use of Hybrid cars and targeting the wealthier market who may not be feeling the effects of the economic downturn were important measures to consider.

Patrice Donalds, Tourism Training and Development Coordinator for the Department of Tourism, said that the initiative of using debate as a means of building students’ awareness of the complexities of the tourism industry began six years ago as a team-based tournament. She went on to list all of the previous Junior Ministers of Tourism, referring to them as hall of famers:

2003 – Joni Ebanks (JGHS), who went on to compete in St. Thomas, USVI
2004 – Heidi Knowlton (CBHS), who competed in Aruba
2005 – Thea Bush (JGHS), who travelled to St. Thomas to represent the Cayman Islands
2006 – Nickolas DaCosta (CBHS), whose debating skills took him to Puerto Rico
2007 – Myfanwy Leggatt (CBHS), whose quiet grace and eloquence earned her placement of First Runner-Up in the CTO Youth Congress, a new laptop and US$300.

After tallying the total marks for each student, Karthika Velusamy was chosen to represent the Cayman Islands as the 2008/2009 Junior Minister of Tourism. Andrel Harris finished as First Runner-Up and Jovonnie Anglin, Second Runner-Up. Karthika addressed the crowd for the first time as Junior Minister of Tourism and thanked the Ministry and Department of Tourism for giving her an opportunity to represent her country.

Karthika and her coach, Yvette Gayle, and Patrice Donalds travel to Port of Spain on Saturday, 25 October, to represent the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Tourism Conference and participate in the Caribbean Youth Congress.

Photo: From left, 2008 Tourism Speak-Off Competitors Jovonnie Anglin, 2008-2009 Junior Minister of Tourism Karthika Velusamy and Andrel Harris.


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  1. Nil(round) says:

    Dear Karthika,

    Congrats!!!! I’m soooo proud of ya.. I luv u!


  2. Steve Edwards says:

    I would like to say congratulations to Andrel Harris, being a very close friend of mine i always knew he had the potential to be great. Congrats Andrel you made us all proud. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Annual Inter School Tourism Debate has consistently seen the talent that the youth of the Cayman Islands possees. May this tradition continue to amaze and inspire our youth in the future to reach to new and greater heights.  All the best to the current Junior Minister of Tourism in her future endeavors. We are all so very proud of her!

  4. Glad to see that the youth are empowered with such task. Cayman’s tourism has done wonders in attracting tourists and investors, and these young participants will certainly inject their fresh ideas to further increase tourist visibility in the Cayman islands.

  5. Panneer, Gandhi, Nikil, Sathana says:

    Congratulations to Karthika Velusamy. We are proud of you. Best Wishes for the Carribean Tourism Conference

  6. Mohan Kumar says:

    Dear Karthka,

    I Am Very Proud Of You.  Mama.

  7. Dr.S.K.Mohanty says:

    Congratulations my dear.

    You do us all proud.

    All the best in the coming foray.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to these bright young Caymanians!

    With all of the sad, depressing news of late it is quite refreshing and timely to see these three young people, articulate and professional – giving a positive representation for Cayman. very proud of you all! 

    Congratulations and good luck to the new Jnr Tourism Minister Karthika Velusamy – we look forward to hearing of your performance in Port of Spain and beyond.

    M McLaughlin

  9. Fred Speirs says:

    Karthika and the previous four winners have all represented their schools in the Rotary/British Caymanian Inter-Schools Debates.  Many of the participants in the Youth Parliaments have had experience in public speaking in the same competition.  Maybe it is time that this forum received more recognition.


    • Panneer, Gandhi, Nikil, Sathana says:

      Congratulations to Karthika Velusamy. We are proud of you. Best Wishes for the Carribean Tourism Conference