Opinion: Edu-tourism

POSTED: 07/21/14 1:53 PM

Dear Editor,

I have read the article of Mr. Andrew Smith which was published in the Today newspaper of Monday July 14, 2014 with regard to his view on “Edu-Tourism”, and have taken great interest.

As a candidate on the Democratic Party slate (DP), contesting the upcoming Parliamentary elections, scheduled for August 29, I felt obliged to accept the challenge of Mr. Andrew Smith on his article concerning Edu-Tourism.

While further familiarizing myself with the topic, I discovered that, an Edu-Tourist can travel for various purposes: formal or informal while learning in a unique local environment. The result

is a socially and economically sustainable tourism product that benefits both the region and its visitors. Edu-tourism creates mutual partnerships, through which all parties learn and contribute their respective resources, expertise, and skills. In answering one of Mr. Smith’s questions, yes

I fully agree and am in total favor of Edu-Tourism for St. Maarten. I also agree that St. Maarten as a country dependent on tourism should start looking into various avenues that will help develop its only GDP, which is tourism.

Edu-Tourism is definitely an option to exploit. Mr. Smith asked the question: How can Edu-Tourism become a reality? Of course, there is also the question – is Edu-Tourism achievable

for St. Maarten at this present moment? I am of the opinion that, despite our current economic and social challenges, with the right mindset and proper resources anything can be achieved.

In May of this year, the Social Economic Council (SER), organized a symposium on Inclusive Development. The keynote speaker was the former Prime Minister of Barbados, Mr. Owen Arthur. He gave examples of ways that a community can be included in helping the growth of its country. Mr. Arthur further stated that “for St. Maarten to have a five star tourism sector, it must have a five star society, and that “the state has to provide a five star infrastructure and education system.”

Hence, as mentioned by Mr. Smith in his article, in order to achieve an Edu-Toursim purchase valium society,

a feasibility study should be done before delving into the possibilities and benefits of an Edu-Tourism society. I as a young politician and other politicians as well as the government of St. Maarten need to start looking at different techniques to develop our level of thinking, better our infrastructure and illustrate transparency throughout the community. I do believe that a community that is included with the happenings of its country will do its utmost to help it grow.

The popularity and prominence of (academic) education in providing quality human capital capable of contributing to the (world) economy is on the rise, with Edu Tourism providing the platform for knowledge transfers. The Edu- tourist profile is a person who is better educated, more concerned about the environment and culture and more curious and academically-minded. Thus, this new Edu-tourist will search for quality, considering the ranking of the institution, accreditation of its programs and faculties, competence, qualification and expertise

of the academic staff, marketability and recognition of the degree awarded, student’s safety

and security. This is something that I think our present and future government should take

into consideration or definitely explore the options.

It is my opinion – and part of my political platform – that our government needs to invest more in education to make the above mentioned a reality and in addition combat the current brain drain. We should start with our own University of St. Martin, there is always room for improvement, while on the other hand our government needs to be willing and able to accommodate the needs of that institution. Upgrade our University in stages with similar or comparable facilities as the DeVry Institute/Caribbean Medical School. This in turn will have its benefits for our students and Edu-Tourism on St. Maarten.

In closing, I would like to thank Mr. Smith for laying down this challenge to the candidates.

 

Gerard M.C. Richardson

DP candidate # 10.

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