The Caribbean is preparing to stage one of its largest tourism conventions, and it will be an in-person event, the first such regional conference since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the first quarter of 2020.
Barbados and the Caribbean have lost another stalwart in the hotel and tourism industry with the passing of the former General Manager of the Sandy Lane Hotel and former President of the Barbados Hotel Association (now Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association), Richard Williams.
Williams was highly respected for his work in the luxury hotel industry with a focus on independent properties across the Caribbean region. Among his accomplishments, “He led the team in executing the US$500 million planning and redesign of the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados.
“In 2004, he successfully led the tourism bid for Barbados to host the finals of the Cricket World Cup in 2007 following which, he was appointed to the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) [now Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.] with responsibility for the Americas in New York where he re-positioned the destination and orchestrated an additional 70,000 air seats per year from the US market.”
He received his education at the UWI Cave Hill Campus and Cornell University in New York and had a long affiliation with the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) based in Miami.
He won that organisation’s prestigious Caribbean Hotelier of the Year Award and in recognition of his commitment to tourism, he was awarded the Silver Crown of Merit by the Barbados Government. He was also recognised as “One of the Top 25 Marketing Minds” in the Americas by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI).
The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association remembered Williams as a “’Tourism practitioner extraordinaire’, whose energetic and high-spirited personality inspired many who met him.
He was truly an international tourism icon whose passion and commitment to the global tourism industry was evidenced by his numerous contributions whether locally, regionally, or internationally.
“While Richard’s affection and love for tourism was evident and undeniable, the warmth, friendliness and hospitable nature of this gentleman conveyed his respect, professionalism, and humanity. He readily offered advice and would also volunteer to assist
He was not simply prepared to talk but was willing to actively get involved in the work which needed to be undertaken. We will miss Richard, his effervescent personality, his infectious smile and his wit, which provided laughter on numerous occasions.”
Meanwhile, President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, Nicola Madden-Greig, lauded his volunteer service to CHTA during which he contributed to the shape and design of Caribbean Marketplace, the Caribbean Gold Book and CHARMS (Caribbean Hotel Association Reservation Management Service).
“Richard had a tremendous influence on many seasoned as well as new players in the industry. He will always be remembered for his ability to seamlessly and selflessly share his insights and knowledge with others,” the Jamaican hotelier remarked.
Vanessa Ledesma, Acting CEO and Director General of CHTA, added that Williams was a distinguished champion of ensuring the region’s major economic driver was also a responsible steward of the Caribbean environment: “He was a devoted proponent of responsible tourism and headed CAST (Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism), an initiative of CHTA which provides tourism enterprises with sustainability resources, best practices and provides support for the advocacy of sustainable advances within the hotel and tourism sector of the Caribbean.
“Richard was a tireless advocate of the work of CHTA and Caribbean tourism. He always made himself available to support the important mandate of our organisaation. His insight and intelligence will be sorely missed,” Ledesma reflected. (DH/PR)
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) recently announced plans to stage the 40th edition of the Caribbean Travel Marketplace (CTM) in April-May
HTA’s chairman for Caribbean Tourism Market, Karen Whitt, said the event features the region’s buyers and sellers of tourism products, goods, and services. A host country is still to be named.
Most Caribbean destinations are still facing another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic infections, with the Delta variant responsible for the upsurge in cases.
Due to COVID-19-related travel and meeting concerns, the CHTA disclosed that more than 6, 000 meetings were held virtually over three days during Marketplace earlier this year, giving buyers from 20 countries the chance to connect with suppliers representing more than 150 Caribbean hotels and tourism-related businesses.
The fully virtual CTM 39 included buyers from Austria, The Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, France, India, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
According to a CHTA statement: “In preparation for CTM 40, CHTA is setting up focus groups with CHTA members, the association’s executive committee, and tourism buyers to determine the form and function of the next conference and to ensure the broadest benefits for all attendees.
“Also, under review will be widening the diversity of offerings as well as including the travel agent community and attracting more small properties to join the traditional CTM mix of boutiques and big brands.
“Dealing with the pandemic and its many effects on hospitality and tourism is high on the focus group agenda to ensure CHTA members are equipped with the best guidance going forward.”
Barbados, which has been severely affected by the pandemic, is among the Caribbean states flagged by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) for its rising infection rates.
Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, insisted that her Ministry would not be taking any knee jerk reactions to the new variant known as Omicron.
She was quoted as saying: “The Ministry of Health has done an exemplary job over all of this time. They have kept our borders safe; they have kept our people safe as best as they have control over that.”
She added: “I am confident that the Ministry of Health will advise, and we will comply, and we will follow because we know that the tourism sector is in a recovery mode, but it is also fragile.”
Several countries have closed their borders to many southern African countries where the variant was first isolated. (IMC1)