[St. George’s, Grenada]
The West Indies School of Hospitality (WISH) – a partnership between eCornell, Innovate Inc. and Naguib Sawiris, was launched on April 20 to support Grenada’s thrust to develop its tourism industry, particularly its hospitality sector.
The e-learning platform will provide 6,000 hospitality courses annually that tourism and hospitality professionals in Grenada can access, free of charge, to enhance their professional skills and improve service excellence standards on island. It was designed by Cornell University Hotel School’s faculty and provides eCornell certificates and credits toward university degrees for certain courses.
The initiative, which was born from the founders of Innovate Inc., Danny Fakhre and Barry Collymore, particularly targets already employed tourism and hospitality workers.
“We set out to see how we could do meaningful things that would impact the lives of persons here and how we could do something that would bring more productivity and… improve the tourism sector,” Collymore said.
“We thought that one of the things we needed to look at was a training institution. We already have a training institution at the secondary and tertiary level, but how could we do something more at the professional level so that persons already working in the hospitality industry and service industry could get opportunities for training.”
Collymore indicated that Sawiris, the Egyptian billionaire behind Grenada’s award winning Silversands resort, agreed to come on board only if the Innovate team could secure Cornell University to offer the courses.
Sawiris, who has now embarked on his second luxury resort in Grenada – Beach House by Silversands, and who intends to deliver 500 rooms through different properties in the next five years, says he was happy to join the initiative.
“I am someone who has fallen in love with Grenada beyond belief. And I continue to do so,” Sawiris said. “God has been very gracious to Grenada. He has given it two things which are very rare. The beauty of its nature but most important, the beauty of its people. When I first landed in this island, I thought they were from another planet because people were extremely sweet, nice, cordial. It’s the first ingredient of hospitality. When someone comes to an island, he feels this kind of kindness and sweetness. I have hardly seen it anywhere else, therefore I’m very emotional about Grenada and I’m a big supporter.”
Sawiris is contributing to a fund, managed by Innovate Inc., which will offer scholarships to Grenadians desirous of accessing the hospitality courses.
The initiative is one which Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. the Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell believes is one that will have an enormous impact on the quality of Grenada’s Society. “Tourism is important to the success of our country and we need to maximise all of the opportunities that are before us.” The Prime Minister said.
“Grenada’s true potential in tourism has not been tapped. The level of potential that exists, cannot be underestimated. We have not used it optimally and for us to achieve that optimisation, the training of our people is crucial. It is one of the fundamental factors that will improve our tourism product.”
Among the courses being offered at WISH are service excellence, hospitality leadership and food and beverage management. Classes will officially be accessible from Grenada by Summer 2021, and by the greater Caribbean in 2022.