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Bermudians key to tourism revival, says BHI boss

Bermudians can be the driving force behind a new revival in tourism, according to one industry expert.

And Malika Musson, executive director of the Bermuda Hospitality Institute, is urging more locals to consider a career in a field that can provide enormous job satisfaction, a wide range of positions, and the opportunity to travel the world.

Ms Musson said that, while guest workers employed in the industry on the Island were valued, Bermudians were in a unique position to provide brilliant service and enhance the holiday experience of vacationers.

“I think Bermuda is multicultural destination and our guest workers bring things — their experience from other parts of the world — but they also coming to learn things from Bermuda,” Ms Musson said.

“But if you go anywhere in the world on vacation you want to see the people of that country — you want to see the face,” Ms Musson said.

“Bermuda's biggest selling point has always been its people — how friendly and welcoming we are — and our visitors want to experience that.

“I think born-and-raised Bermudians have a natural ability. It's inherent for us to be hospitable to people. You are taught it from a young age so we bring something special to the industry.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the BHI promotes a career in hospitality as “more than a job — it's a lifestyle”.

The non-profit organisation was set up four years ago to attract young Bermudians into the industry, and runs a range of programmes providing training and advise to help locals on a new career path. And it believes in instilling its message at an early age. This summer it will organise two summer camps to give primary school students an insight into how to become Island ambassadors.

Ms Musson, who describes herself as “hospitality to the bone” believes Bermuda is on the cusp of a tourism renaissance — and believes Bermudians need to be in a position to take advantage of that boom.

“I believe right now is a very exciting time for the industry and I want as many Bermudians to get in on it and be there for when it really hits,” she said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that it will. It might not happen tomorrow but I see a path to it and it's going to be awesome.

“I think it's going to be different than what it was before but its going to be great for Bermuda and there's a new energy here that is needed and we're going through the rough patch of the changeover, but once we're through that it's going to be awesome.”

Among the benefits of working in tourism Ms Musson cites the satisfaction of helping people as one of the greatest rewards.

“I've been in hotels and tourism for years and I have never had more job satisfaction,” she said.

“Whereas in other industries, you could be working on a project and it could take months before you get that ‘yes!' feeling, in hospitality you have an opportunity several times a day to get that, because you have so many opportunities to help people.

“There are also so many avenues in which you can use your talents. There are a lot of moving parts that people don't know about. People don't have to be pigeon holed into one particular thing.

“What are your interests and what do you like? I can find you a job in the hospitality industry that will meet those interests and likes, because there's such a range of jobs out there that you would never have thought was available.”

“I think that, for young people especially, its an industry in which they can not only use their talents but also show their personality. If you have that kind of personality, where you're willing to work hard and have the right attitude, you can go so far, learn so much and be so successful.”

Ms Musson acknowledged that the hours can be demanding, and there was perhaps a reluctance for some to start at the bottom of the career ladder. But the opportunities are endless.

“Sometimes you won't get Christmas off, sometimes you will have to work Cup Match — both days — or not go to that family barbecue because you have got to work.

“But, if you love what you do, you wont mind. If you love what you do you never work a day,” she said.

“And while there are opportunities out there but you have to be willing to start at the entry level to learn the business.

“You have to get that work experience so that you can come in and know how front desk works or how the housekeeping department operates.

What people need to realise is that hospitality is a career that you need to train for — you cant just walk in and ‘okay I'm here'.”

Although the institute focuses on introducing tourism opportunities to young people, it is also interested in recruiting others with more experience.

“There are people who were working in hospitality and for whatever reason left. We would like for them to come back to us,” she said.

“We also want to hear from people who haven't necessarily thought of hospitality as a career before, or maybe wanted to be in hospitality but didn't know where they fit in.

“We want them to come in and have a chat, see what there interests are and put them on a path.

“If you're a Bermudian you're automatically in the hospitality industry — you can't get away from it, whether you work in it directly or on the fringes, so we're all connected in that way.

There are jobs out there — I see them advertised all the time — but you need qualifications and experience and that's why we need the best and the brightest.

“We want Bermuda to have a successful tourism industry, but we also want Bermudians to be successful in that industry, and we're here to help them achieve that.”

For further information about the work of the institute, visit www.bhi.bm or call 295 5049.

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Published July 05, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 06, 2014 at 5:02 pm)

Bermudians key to tourism revival, says BHI boss

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