In January 2015, the International Labor Organization (ILO) published a list of countries with the most women in leadership positions.
After Jamaica and Colombia, St. Lucia came in at an astonishing third position, with the article stating that more than 52 percent of management on the island is female.
With women taking a prominent role in the Saint Lucia business sector, it should come as no surprise that we have produced the only two female presidents in the history of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), which has been in existence for more than a half-century.
CHTA’s first female President was the inimitable Berthia Parle, MBE. Her legacy of passion, style and dynamism lives on in CHTA, and under her leadership important decisions were taken which still guide many of CHTA’s operations. In October 2005, Berthia – in her role of CHTA President – was one of 4 officials that signed a memorandum of understanding between CHA ( as it was called then) and CTO ( Caribbean Tourism Organization) that laid the groundwork for a more strategic alliance between the 2 organizations and eventually led to the formation of the Caribbean Tourism Development Company in 2007.
Saint Lucia’s engagement with our regional Caribbean tourism industry goes beyond delivering two female presidents – indeed, many men of honor and distinction have provided enlightening and lasting leadership.
Saint Lucia’s tourism professionals have always understood the importance of regional collaboration to sustainably grow Caribbean tourism. Current President Sanovnik Destang and former SLHTA Presidents Anthony Bowen, Lawrence Samuel and our honorable Prime Minister Allen Chastanet are just a few of them.
Prime Minister Chastanet in particular – throughout his long career in tourism – has been a passionate advocate for a private – public sector driven regional Caribbean tourism organization to play an important part in strengthening the capacity of our national and regional bodies to champion, promote and grow Caribbean tourism.
and by doing do, weather the many challenges to the industry.
In fact, as we battle with impact of Zika, BREXIT and other socio-economic challenges a unified approach by our private and public sector stakeholders to take Caribbean tourism to new heights and new levels of excellence has never been more critical.
Whether it’s ease of travel, affordable and better airlift, education, human resource development, energy efficiency, climate change, linkages to other economic sectors such as agriculture and the creative arts, access to capital, new investment, competitiveness or unemployment, our Caribbean neighbors share many of the same challenges. Challenges we can overcome together.
We should recognize we have done well but we need to ensure our best and brightest, males and females together, lock arms and take our national and regional industry to another level.
I believe that with a united front we will do it. And as the current CHTA President for the term 2016-2018, I am fully committed to play my part in delivering to the Caribbean people a region that is the most desirable not only to visit, but to grow up, live, work and run a business in.