UK training manager makes waves in St Helena

Training manager Gill Heighington has just returned from an out-of-the-ordinary learning and development (L&D) experience – running courses for tourist staff in remote St Helena in the South Atlantic.

Heighington, who is training manager at Tourism South East (TSE), travelled on the UK’s last functioning Royal Mail ship to the island’s capital, and only town, Jamestown, to run an intensive five-day course. The training included customer service courses for 24 staff from the island’s hotels and train the trainer ones for eight managers, who should use the skills acquired to teach other islanders service skills.

“It was the most unusual assignment I have ever undertaken,” said Heighington, “but it was a memorable experience. I travelled on the RMS St Helena with about 100 other passengers and lots of cargo – five days out and five days back.

St Helena is beautiful, but the people know they desperately need some form of economic development.”

An airport is due to be built on St Helena in 2012 and the island’s tourist board hopes it will enable many tourists to visit the dependency.

Pam Young, St Helena director of tourism, said TSE “weren’t at all daunted by this unusual contract. We’re at the start of an exciting journey and we feel that training, based on internationally-recognised standards, is a firm foundation.

TSE said its Welcome to Excellence courses, which were delivered in St Helena, have been taken by more than 300,000 staff in the UK’s hospitality, travel, retail and other sectors.

The population of St Helena is 4,000.

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