PRIMARY school students from across Jamaica have showcased their knowledge of the country and its tourism product for six stagings of the Tourism Product Development Company’s (TPDCo) Tourism Quiz, walking away with a long list of coveted prizes plus bragging rights. Now organisers have set their sights on making the show even more impactful.
The next step is to have 32 schools from across Jamaica compete during the 2024 season — that’s double the number from Trelawny that competed when the pilot was launched in 2016. It’s a goal the organisers are confident they will achieve as they’ve done it before, in 2019, the same year the quiz debuted on Television Jamaica (TVJ). COVID-19 scuttled plans for contests in 2020 and 2021, and even in 2022 some schools stayed away. Sixteen schools competed this year, with defending champions Naggo Head Primary besting Mandeville Primary in the final match.
“In this year’s iteration we were able to air seven matches, starting from the quarter finals on TVJ. The broadcast of the matches has generated interest from prospective participants across the island,” TPDCo Executive Director Wade Mars told Jamaica Observer’s LetsTravelCaribbean.com.
Initially launched to sensitise youngsters in Trelawny about the cruise industry as the parish prepared to welcome passengers, the TPDCo Tourism Quiz has evolved into much more. Through it all the aim has always been to expand participants’ knowledge and build awareness of Jamaica’s tourism product, while hammering home the importance of the industry to the country’s economy.
“Participants have flexed their knowledge of the industry in each match they play,” said Mars who also pointed to how the contest builds teamwork skills and discipline that will serve contestants well into adulthood.
In addition to mathematics and social studies — a nod to the Primary Exit Profile syllabus — quiz topics also include tourism news, discover Jamaica, The Adventures of Sprucey & Limey (an animated show), Jamaican heritage and culture, Spanish, and Team Jamaica.
“They are now much more knowledgeable and aware of the ins and outs of Jamaica’s tourism industry,” Mars said of what contestants have gained from participating. “Plus, learning has taken place in a fun and entertaining environment so, not only have the participants learned but our viewers [as well]. There has also been buy-in from other schools that have seen the competition on our social media pages and television, and already have expressed an interest to participate in the next season.”
One of the goals of the contest is to give students an opportunity to experience Jamaica, much like visitors to the island would. After learning about the adventures to be explored, top teams get a chance to have a bit of fun following the hard-fought competition.
Prizes include day passes at some of the country’s best hotels, adventure tours and attractions — and teachers of the winning teams are not left out. But it is the quiz’s ability to make tourism a natural part of students’ lives that is the ultimate pay-off.
“In addition to all the glitz, the students gain knowledge about Jamaica’s tourism sector — and I believe it ignites a sense of pride in their country and its offerings. They are poised to be ambassadors as they experience and enjoy their prizes to different attractions and hotels, are exposed to world tourism, and are made more rounded,” said TPDCo’s Mars.
“We haven’t had anyone say, ‘I want to be a tourism worker,’ but I do believe they have made the connection with tourism and the need for doctors, engineers, teachers, environmentalists and other careers they are eyeing. The linkages have been established, and they are better able to understand tourism’s value chain,” he added.