Grads hold future of visitor industry

Our son is part of the senior class of 2008 and will be graduating one week from today. I keep asking, “Where did those 17 years go so fast?”

I’m sure I’m not the only parent who enters this week with a combination of pride and happiness, mixed in with a little worry, topped off with a strong dose of hope for our kids who will be entering the world of college shortly.

Graduating seniors are our future workforce and we need to continue to nurture and support them as they enter this new phase of life. Each summer, the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau tries to reach out to a student that might benefit from a two- to three-month internship. It’s not the hourly rate that’s so important, rather the experience our office and great staff provide.

We share a variety of opportunities during that time that gives a person exposure to our marketing committee meetings, board meetings, travel agent training program and a press trip on Kaua‘i — the inner workings of “getting it all done.”

We have worked closely with Kaua‘i High School’s Academy of Hospitality & Tourism to find that student who can handle working in our fast-paced office and learn from the many areas of experience available. We have found some real jewels, and from time to time I run into a few of our past interns and am so happy to see who they have become as young adults.

Serving on the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism board of directors has given me exposure to 20 or 30 high school students annually who are intelligent, creative and full of energy. Mahalo nui loa to Beth Tokioka, academy chair; Leah Aiwohi, academy director; and Linda Smith, Kaua‘i High School principal, all of whom make the effort to guide these students to new heights each year.

Here are just a few of the academy’s highlights from this past school year.

• Kaua‘i High School Academy of Hospitality & Tourism hosted its first student Business Conference at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa in September 2007.

• Academy students placed first in the BYUH-Students in Free Enterprise Business Plan competition in January.

• Academy juniors participated in job shadowing experiences at various Marriott properties in February and actually had the opportunity to meet Mr. J.W. Marriott Jr. himself.

• The academy was filmed and featured on KHNL’s Cool School’s segment in October 2007.

• Students attended/participated in the annual statewide Academy of Hospitality & Tourism student conference at the Honolulu Convention Center. Tying in a familiarization trip with the experience, students also visited the University of Hawai‘i’s Travel Industry Management School and Kapiolani Community College to explore post-secondary possibilities (October 2007).

• The academy and Sheraton Kauai partnered for the second year in implementing the Sheraton’s Teen Concierge Program during which academy students planned, organized and implemented week-long activities to engage teen visitors at the resort (December 2006, March and December 2007, May 2008).

KVB extends our congratulations to all our graduating seniors and to their families who have supported them along the way.

• Sue Kanoho is the executive director of the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau. She can be reached at kauai@hvcb.org

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