May 18, 2006 — The Tourism Department's "Tourist for a Day" program gave 31 students from across the district an opportunity Thursday to participate in the ultimate field trip – a six-hour excursion to tourist destinations across St. Thomas, along with a fun lunch at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort.
After the students and their chaperones met early Thursday morning at Emancipation Garden with Tourism representatives, the group loaded onto two safari vans and began its journey to Paradise Point, where they traveled to the top via tramway.
"It was so much fun," Tyrell Steele, a student at Gomez Elementary School said. "The sky ride was swaying back and forth, but I wasn't scared. I'm not afraid of heights."
Once at their destination, the students explored the shops and were treated to a parrot show, where they saw a colorful macaw named Mango playing basketball. "That was my favorite part of the day," 11-year-old Typanie Richards, a student at the J. Antonio Jarvis Elementary School, said. "I've never seen anything like it before. All the parrots were so funny."
Richards' chaperone, Kishma Richards, agreed. "It was pretty cool," she said, adding that it was also "fun" to have a day off from work.
After the group stopped for lunch at Bolongo, the day wrapped up with a tour of Coral World. Holding maps of the marine park in their hands, the students talked excitedly about what they wanted to see the most, and begged their chaperones to stop for ice cream.
"Let's go see the sharks," one student suggested, as the group passed the touch pool and headed for Coral World's undersea observatory – a facility which takes visitors 50 feet under the water and allows them to see local marine life in their own habitats.
The turtle pool was also a favorite site, and students squealed with excitement as two green sea turtles touched flippers underwater.
The students were also able to see Coral World divers feeding the fish in the park's Caribbean Reef Excursion and stopped to touch some of the starfish in the touch pool.
"It was really great," 12-year-old Denisha Hodge, a student at Jarvis, said. "It was fun to have the whole day off from school."
When asked, Tourism officials said that the "Tourist for a Day" program is an annual event organized by the department in conjunction with National Tourism Week. "The principals at each public and private school across the district each sent a letter about the program, and they select which students are going to participate," Tourism representative Diana Brown said. "The students, who are all in the fourth to sixth grades, are usually selected based on things like their grade point average or who has the highest overall performance."
"We all had a lot of fun today," she added.
Junior high school students also participated in a similar event on St. Croix Thursday.
The "Tourist for a Day" program is one in a series of events that have been ongoing since May 13. Upcoming events include:
–Friday, May 19: Passenger Appreciation Day – Tourism personnel meet and greet air passengers at the Cyril E. King Airport while distributing Tourism paraphernalia.
–Sunday, May 21: National Tourism Week Closing – Special prayers are offered for tourism industry workers.
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