November 2, 1999
NET CORPS AMERICAS: BUILDING A
AND SMALL BUSINESSES IN THE CARIBBEAN
Family-owned inns in the Caribbean are getting another jump-start to join the e-commerce revolution, thanks to Net Corps Americas, which has deployed its second team of volunteers to lend a hand. The volunteers will teach Internet and computer skills to innkeepers to expand their advertising strategies and reservations systems. Innkeepers will also gain access to distance-learning sites to enhance hotel management skills.
The second Net Corps team left Washington last week, after pre-deployment training and orientation to work in six Caribbean countries: Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and Barbados. The volunteers operate under the Caribbean Innkeeper Technology Program, an initiative of the Organization of American States (OAS) Unit for Tourism. This program is based on an OAS Tourism study which found that family-owned inns involved in e-commerce had significantly higher occupancy rates.
Says OAS Tourism program coordinator, George Vincent: "The extraordinary success of Net Corps first team convinced everyone that volunteers can make a huge difference. The first team of volunteers contributed more than 1400 hundred hours of labor by working with over 70 family owned inns." The first set of volunteers went to the Caribbean in July and stayed until September.
Dr. Vincent, a Grenadian national, added: "By working through each countrys national tourism organization, the first team of Net Corps Americas volunteers provided small inn operators with a level of expertise that they otherwise could not ordinarily afford."
Volunteers for the Net Corps Americas program come from all walks of life, and span all age groupsbut share the commitment to bridge the digital divide. Net Corps Americas volunteers live in host communities that provide room and board in exchange for training in computer and Internet skills. Volunteers must have extensive computer and Internet experience, appropriate language skills and a demonstrated willingness to commit to a rigorous program of work.
The Net Corps Americas programan initiative of The Trust of the Americashas more than 30 coalition members, representing a wide variety of service organizations from across the Americas. The Trust for the Americas is a non-profit foundation created to be the entry point for private sector participation with the OAS. The Trust for the Americas serves as the coordinating secretariat for the Net Corps Americas Coalition.
Corporate partners for the Caribbean Innkeeper Technology Program include Travel Linx Inc, a Canadian destination management system; Nortel Networks E-commerce and Enterprise Solutions; and ARA Consulting Group, a division of KPMG Canada.
For more information see Net Corps' web site at www.netcorpsamericas.org.