Miss Universe Ja finalists benefit from TPDCo training session | Entertainment

The Miss Universe Jamaica pageant is well under way with the countdown to the grand coronation currently at three weeks to showtime. The final night of the prestigious beauty, fashion and wellness competition will see 33 gorgeous contestants vying for the coveted crown and the chance to represent her beloved Jamaica on the international stage in Mexico against contestants from more than 100 other countries.

As of now, the crown could be anyone’s and the organisers of the Miss Universe Jamaica continue to work zealously to ensure each contestant is equipped with all the necessary tools that should they win on July 6, the Miss Universe crown finds its long-awaited way home. The latest in these efforts: a special training session presented by The Tourism Product Development Company Limited (TPDCo).

The Miss Universe Jamaica finalists were up bright and early at their home base, AC Hotel, last Saturday morning in branded T-shirts, jeans and, of course, their quintessential Chinese Laundry heels. On the agenda was a full day of sessions on tourism product knowledge, which would end in each participant receiving a certificate of completion and the necessary awareness to promote Jamaica as “the premier destination in the Caribbean”.

Bellinda Sutherland-Dowe, training officer at the TPDCo who led the session on ‘Jamaica as a Tourism Destination’ and ‘Customer Relations Management’, believes that the winner of the Miss Universe Jamaica pageant is ultimately a brand ambassador for her country whose role, along with her responsibility of achieving Miss Universe, will be to sell Jamaica to the world.

“As a brand ambassador, there are certain areas that [the Miss Universe Jamaica 2024] needs to be knowledgeable in. She needs to know her history, as well as the impact that history has on the tourism industry. Confidence is one of the keys to winning, so self-development is one of the areas we focus on as well. If you look on [the tourism industry’s] impact, it contributes so much to Brand Jamaica. So why not, as a brand ambassador, be knowledgeable on its history? We hope that the winner of Miss Universe will work with us as we plan to continue to train her,” Sutherland-Dowe said.

Her invaluable insight would be followed by presentations by her colleagues Wade Mars, Deanne Keating-Campbell, Ricky Pascoe and Marline Stephenson-Dalley on the TPDCo, destination dssurance, human trafficking, and HIV and AIDS Awareness, respectively, as well as another major presentation on Jamaican cultural awareness by TPDCo training officer Kameil McNeil.

During this session, the ladies learnt about the vibrant musical genres and dance styles originating in the island, and the many customs and lores still practised and passed on today. McNeil prioritised light-hearted interaction with the contestants during her session which saw the ladies on their feet, participating in dance demonstrations and singing along to folk songs.

“Culture is our way of life. As a queen you have to be well-rounded, as you represent Brand Jamaica and all areas of that are very important. At the end of my session, one particular contestant actually remarked to me that ‘I feel much more Jamaican’. All the ladies are queens, and I know they all could represent well,” McNeil told The Gleaner.

Shanon Johnson, 24-year-old entrepreneur who wears the sash Miss Gustazos Jamaica, thoroughly enjoyed the day’s proceedings and, should she win, looks forward to gaining more knowledge through the training programme she would be offered.

“The sessions were really informative, and I enjoyed every bit of them. I saw Jamaica from many different perspectives. There was information that I was grateful for and will be passing on. The point of TPDCo is to sell Jamaica, and if you’re going to be an ambassador for your country, you should be able to sell it in every instance you’re in. Coming from these sessions, I should be able to do that better,” Johnson said.

Along with the many exciting prizes for the incoming Miss Universeis a complimentary TEAM Jamaica training course offered by the TPDCo to further enhance her chances on the Miss Universe stage in November.


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