CAYMAN ISLANDS – While millions are drawn to the Caribbean’s natural beauty and attractions every year, it is the creativity and warmth of the people that keep visitors returning, asserts Patricia Affonso-Dass, President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).
Affonso-Dass, who will address this week’s 9th Tourism Human Resources Conference hosted by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, applauded the work of CTO, CHTA and many companies and destinations in the region which are developing and recognizing tourism industry talent.
Speaking ahead of the November 28 to 30 conference, she challenged regional leaders to build on this foundation with a greater commitment to investing in education and training, sharing and recognizing best practices, and shaping meaningful partnerships between business, education, training institutions, labor unions and governments.
“In spite of our small size, we have produced some of the most creative and talented people in the worlds of music, sports, arts, business and education,” said Affonso-Dass, who is a product of many Caribbean influences, having grown up in Dominica, Trinidad, Antigua and Guyana, before moving to Barbados where she has worked for the past 20 years.
“A new level of commitment and engagement towards the development of our people must be commensurate with our recognition that our people are our greatest resource and we must challenge ourselves, our businesses, and institutions to recognize and develop not just our general workforce but most especially our young leaders,” asserted the CHTA President.
Affonso-Dass, who is the Group General Manager of Ocean Hotels in Barbados, said Caribbean people must “believe in one another and invest in each other so that we can elevate our delivery of world-class experiences for those who invest their hard-earned dollars in a vacation experience in the region.”
During the conference, whose theme is “Building a Resilient, High-performing and Sustainable Caribbean Tourism Workforce for Global Competitiveness”, the veteran hotelier will address the importance of harnessing the energy and passion of the region’s tourism workforce to innovate.
“Now is not the time to be complacent on this issue, but to reflect on the accomplishments of our people and build on them. We are a world-class region with a rich heritage and legacy … so we must continue to embed excellence and innovation within our culture and across our industry to stay ahead of our competition,” she advised.
Across the Caribbean, CTO and CHTA have focused on a number of training and educational development initiatives from curriculum development in schools and skills training to offering tourism scholarships for hundreds of Caribbean nationals.
The CTO’s 9th Tourism Human Resources Conference provides an exciting and educational forum for human resource professionals to gain new knowledge and acquire the necessary skills to help them achieve excellent performance in their organizations.
The Cayman conference also discusses pertinent issues impacting and relating to the human resource element of tourism in the region; exposes human resource practitioners to good tourism practices in a tourism environment; and provides an opportunity for professional networking.