A talented young college student scooped first place in a national competition recently, impressing a group of expert judges with her stance on sustainable tourism.

Coleg Menai Travel and Tourism student Jenna O'Brien studies at the Bangor site, but hails from Ynys, Talsarnau, which is in the ward of Harlech. She pitched her idea for a sustainable tourism business in her local area by producing a video and writing an accompanying piece, which were then considered by no less than 10 professionals from organisations such as Bluestone Wales, Botanical Gardens of Wales, BITC Cymru and Snowdonia National Park.

Following collaboration between the Tourism Society Cymru and Cardiff Metropolitan University, the Next Tourism Generation Student Competition was launched in January 2020, inviting colleges, universities and students from across Wales to pitch innovative ideas for the sector to leading industry representatives.

Previous research undertaken on tourism in Wales showed a need for better collaboration between industry and education, and a need to address digital and sustainability skills gaps in the tourism industry. The aim of this competition therefore was to bring together leading industry representatives and academics, encouraging tourism sectors to network and develop best practice.

After careful consideration, Jenna was announced the winner of the Sustainable Tourism category of the competition, with the added opportunity of being crowned Overall Winner at the awards ceremony later this year.

Judge Catrin Glyn of Snowdonia National park commented,

Jenna's passion for the culture and heritage of Harlech and the surrounding area is infectious and inspiring. I was really impressed with her knowledge on the impact humans have on the environment, especially with Ynys being within the National Park and the Pen Llŷn a'r Sarnau Special Area of Conservation.

She added,

Her maturity and professionalism is a credit to both herself and Coleg Menai. I'd like to wish her the best of luck with her studies and career, and would welcome her to contact me if she had any questions related to Partneriaeth Yr Wyddfa, or sustainable tourism within the Snowdonia National Park in general.

Coleg Menai Travel and Tourism Lecturer Sharon Jones said

We are so proud of Jenna's achievements, and pleased that her passion for tourism has been recognised. The judges of this competition were all selected for their wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry, and the feedback Jenna received from them was extremely positive. She obviously impressed each and every one of them, and I am thrilled for her!

Jenna said,

I'd like to thank everyone who created this competition, and also my tutor, Sharon Jones for giving me this opportunity. I have always been passionate about culture, wildlife and the environment and am happy that I could share my passion with others. After finishing my studies, I would love to have a career that helps preserve the environment and culture of Wales, amongst other things.

For more information on courses in Travel and Tourism at Coleg Menai, please visit www.gllm.ac.uk/travel