THE Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) IS CURrently hosting the third annual Saint Lucia Dive Festival (Dive Fest). The festival began on September 8th and will end on September 15th with a prize-giving ceremony. The Dive Festival has also been extended to students at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College who are presently pursuing their Associate Degrees in Hospitality. SLTA has partnered with Sandals Resorts to facilitate dive training lessons for nine students at the community college.
Windell John, Regional Manager of Water-Sports for Sandals International, said that the educational arm of the Sandals Foundation was being extended to Students of the A Level College through the SLTA. “We are basically exposing them to our world of scuba diving and the opportunities that are to be derived from gaining a professional certification in that regard.” He further added, “A lot of the time when our students go to college, it’s basically heavily focused on the academics but there is also an opportunity in technical fields like scuba diving. What we’re here today to do is give them an introduction to diving and let them get their breath underwater for the first time; so we’ve also given them a free opportunity to get certified with us and hopefully they will fall in love with the sport.” John stated that students will be able to advance from their open-water certification to water-rescue, and into becoming a dive-master and open-water scuba-instructor. He said that these jobs can be done anywhere in the world and that there is a demand for dive instructors.
The students will be awarded a certificate of completion at the end of the diving course. The certificates can be used by the students to advance their careers in the hospitality industry. Public relations Officer of SLTA, Geraine Georges, said that the initiative was taken to stimulate greater interest in the dive sector. She said, “That was our intention this year… to encourage the students, give them avenues to pursue their careers because a lot of them get trained within hospitality but not all of them get to actually pursue a living out of it.”
The first set of students started their first training session on Tuesday September 10th at Sandals Halcyon. They will undergo a total of six training sessions. They were Emma Adlian, Bianca Sany, Tarrick Wilson and Mandela Joseph. Their dive instructor was Simeon Medard, who has been a dive instructor for twelve years. Medard said that the students, though nervous in the beginning, had performed very well during their first training exercise. He said that he was proud of them for completing the dive demo unlike some grown-ups in the past that did not. The dive demo was conducted in a swimming pool at the resort. The students were very excited about the training and expressed their eagerness to take their fins and oxygen masks to the sea. Emma Adlian said, “It was scary at first but once I got the hang of it I got better and actually enjoyed it.”