The BVI is not waiting on the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Tourism (ECIT) programme to roll out its marine tourism short courses. In fact, the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College announced during a press conference on 8 April that it has been working on its marine related short courses and will be ready to open them soon.
The BVI has long been known as the sailing capital of the Caribbean and therefore a perfect place for persons from the region interested in increasing their knowledge in areas of marine tourism. This programme expansion plan was made even better with the conceptualization of ECIT as a statutory inter-governmental tourism and hospitality virtual training and educational institution serving all OECS Member States. In fact, ECIT was seen as a great platform for the college’s regional expansion; however, it was explained that for various reasons the ECIT programme has not commenced.
Nonetheless, the College said that it is not waiting for the call to start and has already begun to prepare its courses for rollout. In fact, Dean of Workforce Training, Bernadine Louis announced that the College is just about ready to open its doors to interested students. She told the media: “Right now we are in three strands — we have the marine conservation and biology studies, we have the boat captain training; and we also have the yacht maintenance segment.”
Louis said that the college has developed courses that are technical and hands-on in areas of interest to the industry. She also spoke fondly of the ECIT collaboration. “The marine center about a year or two ago was reinstituted as the marine specialization center for the Caribbean, and what we call the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Tourism programme. We were asked to look at it from the point of marine tourism which includes all those aspects. We have boat captains and so forth we train them to take passengers safely…”
The Dean of Workforce Training noted that HLSCC did not sit idly by and wait to prepare its programmes: “We did not wait, we did not sit on our laurels in the BVI we moved ahead and we developed our courses in yacht maintenance, outboard engine maintenance and so forth. The offer is comprehensive.”
Meanwhile President of HLSCC Judith Vanterpool explained that the development of the marine program is now one of her key passions. She said that so far HLSCC has been fortunate to be helped in the reinstating of the fire simulator which is needed for captain licenses STCW course.
Vanterpool said that without the fire simulator the college could not reoffer captain licenses. “I am happy to report that that is now reinstated,” Vanterpool said.
The head of the College disclosed that the institution has since hired two new staff members for the marine studies. One of the new marine staff is described as an experienced captain that has worked with The Moorings, Sunsail, and Nanny Cay. He is said to have a good relationship with VISAR and knowledgeable about the waters of the Territory and its marine life.
The other person, who would be joining the college shortly is described as no stranger to the BVI. This new faculty member is expected to take key oversight in areas of marine studies. “That person is again a lover of our waters, already trained in maneuvering boats and we want to offer some more of what I would call marine education. One of our projects is going to be focused on the study of mangroves. If you look outside you will see many of the mangroves since hurricane Irma and Maria they appear to be dying … this person has expertise in environmental studies,” the College President said.