Dominica loses Evergreen Hotel but gains a new customer service school
As the door closes on a long-serving hotel here in Dominica- the Evergreen Hotel- it opens up and welcomes a first of its kind, customer service school which aims to boost skills and behavior in the workplace.
On July 21, 2021, it became evident that the hurricane-battered hotel in Castle Comfort which was built in 1986 was unable to rebuild from the ruins of the storm to restore the family-run sea-front inn which has been described as "Petite and Charming... A Serene Blend of Island Beauty and All the Comforts of Home..."
According to the new owner, Tony Paul, he purchased the building from Winston's three years ago, to put into reality a nearly 20-year dream to establish a customer service school in Dominica.
As of September 2021, the new customer service institution -the Caribbean Hospitality and Tourism Training School (CHTTS)- will officially open its doors to 100 students to train employees or individuals in the tourism industry to improve their skills and/or acquire new ones.
Speaking during the official launching ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) revealed that the idea was conceptualized to enhance quality in the workforce which he believes most institutions on the island are severely lacking.
He further revealed that the hotel will be transformed with different sections which provide the trainees with the opportunity to have a hands-on approach to their studies targeting students as young as 12.
Quality assurance consultant of the Dominica Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council, Abraham Durand, said that training of these individuals will be done by Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) qualified instructors, two levels above the people which he or she will be training.
This qualification, he said, commences with level one-directly supervised/entry-level workers; level two- supervised skilled workers; three-independent or autonomous skilled workers; while level four represents specialized or supervisory workers and five managerial and/or professional workers.
While the school isn't the first in the region he noted that it is new to Dominica; therefore, it requires the effort of all stakeholders to make it a success, especially given that the council that will be providing supervision is still in its infancy.
For her part, Executive Director of the TVET Council in Dominica Paula Seraphin explained that the certification that each student will be awarded will be recognized and respected throughout the Caribbean and in many parts of the world.
She is hopeful that the Dominica TVET council, which operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, will be empowered by their parent Ministry to deliver the CVQ certification soon.
Events Coordinator at the Dominica Festival Committee (DFC) Marva Williams pointed out that because of the increase in hotels, the new hospital and the upcoming international airport, now more than ever there is a higher demand among the tourists for quality customer service.
She further added that given the business motto, "the customer is always right," training such as these will not only enhance the business sector but will also boost Dominica's rating.
"This school will help to advance the hospitality industry and not only the hospitality industry but so many other industries that tourism itself depends on to thrive. it will help to solidify that we indeed are the Nature Island that we are friendly, and we can provide quality, friendly and customer-oriented care and services to people coming into Dominica," she said.
Adding his voice, Project Officer for the Eastern District In the Ministry of Environment, Rural Modernisation and Kalinago Upliftment Eldorado Ducreay noted that one of the challenges faced in the craft industry especially in the Kalinago Territory is the authentication of projects which the new school hopes to address with the implementation of a barcode on local crafts.