As the President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), let me make a few remarks about our work at CHTA and about the importance of a regional collaboration when it comes to the promotion of our Caribbean brand.
We here at CHTA and by extension, our National Hotel and Tourism Associations, see the close collaboration with our public sector stakeholders nationally and regionally as a critical requirement to fully realize our region’s tourism potential.
There are still too many incidents where we and other stakeholders duplicate our efforts or work in isolation rather than combine our forces for maximum efficiency to achieve our goals.
Together with CHTA’s CEO Frank Comito, I am a firm believer in the need to have a strong regional marketing program to showcase the many wonders of the Caribbean to the World. There are still many markets with untapped potential for the region. And some existing markets, like Germany and other European countries, have a renewed interest in the Caribbean.
As a region, one of our strengths is our diversity – the ability to offer a lifetime’s worth of vacation experiences. I believe this message can be best promoted by a regional body, while leaving ample room for individual destinations to market themselves. And with many of our destination marketing budgets being reduced or not increased, why not combine our forces wherever and whenever possible to showcase the many pleasures and treasures of the Caribbean? After all, we all want more visitors arriving on our shores and more guests in our beds.
Clearly, this thinking is not novel, as is exemplified by the existence of the Caribbean Tourism Development Company, which was created with precisely these goals in mind. It is a great concern that this collaboration between CTO (The Caribbean Tourism Organization) and CHTA has not yet fulfilled its potential due to an unsustainable funding mechanism.
This matter requires not only urgent dialogue but also agreement among all of our members and public sector stakeholders that there is not only room for regional marketing collaboration but an urgent need for such.
But marketing is just one of many topics that require our attention: Whether we are talking energy efficiency, sustainability, climate change, cost of operations, lack of capital for enhancement or growth, destination safety and security, regional and international airlift, ease of travel, taxation, visa restrictions, human resource development or Zika, many of these issues affect our Caribbean businesses and require our members’ and stakeholders’ individual and collective focus. CHTA is working on several fronts to address these.
To be an efficient advocate for our CHTA members, we must be guided by an ongoing active dialogue among us as well as a strategic framework that will help us remain on course. Therefore, I am pleased that we have completed our 2016-2018 Strategic Plan, which was compiled over a period of several months, based on input received from our members.
Based on the member feedback, advocacy initiatives, improved communications, data and business intelligence, sharing of best practices, organization of engaging activities and events, marketing members’ businesses, education and professional development, member discounts and access to goods and services are all important points to which we must pay attention.
We were encouraged by Prime Minister Perry Christie’s remarks at the opening ceremony of our Caribbean Marketplace trade event held in The Bahamas in January this year. In his call to action to the region, the Prime Minister implored that “we need to focus as a priority on those initiatives that will deliver the fastest growth and visitor satisfaction and commit relentlessly to solving challenges.”
“That requires collaboration and partnerships. My challenge to the CHTA, the public sector led CTO, and groups like CARICOM, is to work together to fully realize the potential which tourism holds for our economies and our people,” he stated.
We have an opportunity to influence governments and the wider private sector. Collectively, we must take full advantage of these opportunities to raise the discussion about tourism at every gathering of our Heads of Government and other partners. Our resolve must be unwavering as the decisions we make now, or fail to make, will affect us for generations to come.
If you want to learn more about our work at CHTA, visit our website at http://www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com
Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association
The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) is a federation of 32 National Hotel Associations, with more than 600 member hotels and over 300 allied members. CHTA is the largest representative of the private sector in the Caribbean hotel and tourism industry.