CHTA President Hails Caribbean Diversity, Beauty and Strength of its People

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Patricia Affonso-Dass hailed the diversity of the region, its incredible natural beauty and people as core strengths as she called for the Caribbean to be better known as the most welcoming region in the world.

Kicking off the 37th annual Caribbean Travel Marketplace, the Caribbean’s largest tourism marketing event, in Montego Bay, Jamaica yesterday evening, the Barbados-based hotelier said it was time to change the way the world references the region, “from the most tourism-dependent in the world to the world’s most desirable, most tolerant and inclusive, most welcoming, most hospitable, most facilitative and investment-friendly, and most environmentally sensitive region in the world.”

Speaking on behalf of the region’s preeminent private sector trade association and its 33 national hotel and tourism associations, the president warmly welcomed delegates to the conference.

Caribbean Travel Marketplace is hosting the largest group of buyers in its history from the widest number of countries.

Sixty new buyer companies out of about 145 have joined the conference this year and CHTA is welcoming the largest contingent of Chinese travel buyers to date along with new buyer companies from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, India, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

CHTA President Patricia Affonso-Dass Hails Caribbean Diversity, Beauty and Strength of its People with Frank Comito

CHTA President Patricia Affonso-Dass addressing Caribbean Travel Marketplace delegates yesterday. At left is CHTA’s Director General and CEO Frank Comito

“Our relationship with you, our buyer partners, and your active engagement in promoting and selling our region is integral to the sustainability of our economies and, by extension, the livelihood of our people, and I would like to encourage you to get more actively engaged with the association,” she implored. “The diversity of buyers attending Marketplace from around the world ironically reflects the diversity of our Caribbean offerings – a united region with an incredible array of offerings with their own distinct natural beauty, history and culture. This is one of our core strengths,” she added.

Pointing to the region’s people, she wants the Caribbean to be known as a region where genuine service is delivered by “regionally proud, highly trained professionals who understand the critical importance of their role and their importance to the success, sustainability and economic viability of the region.”

Affonso-Dass, who has championed the theme of “people development” even prior to assuming the role of president last year, asserted that the people of the region are “our most important asset and our most marketable commodity.”

In a world that often appears dominated by divisiveness, fear and uncertainty, the CHTA president’s dream is for the Caribbean region “to continue to stand strong and united, to be synonymous with a genuine welcome, an authentic experience and excellent service delivered with soul and pride.”

She told the 1,000 delegates attending the opening reception that “more and more of our customers are telling us that what they are seeking is a personal connection with our people, a genuine experience, and an opportunity to feel that their being here makes a positive difference. Our responsibility is to ensure that our people have the right training, real opportunities for development and a chance to derive the greatest value for themselves and their families from the industry in which they work.”

 

The CHTA president thanked those in attendance who are supporting the CHTA Education Foundation, calling on more of the delegates to invest in the region’s people. To date the foundation has awarded scholarships to more than 400 Caribbean nationals and in 2018 provided certificate training to several hundred employees.

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