Lauding International Women’s Day’s focus on “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig, said the United Nations theme was particularly apt as COVID-19 wanes in the region because of the special role played by women in guiding Caribbean hospitality and tourism through the pandemic.
“It is time to recognise Caribbean women for their tremendous contributions not only with our appreciation but also with our commitment to ensure our women achieve true equality in terms of employment opportunities, compensation, as well as in leadership,” said Madden-Greig.
“Many women were at the frontlines of the fight to contain the economic ravages of COVID-19, working tirelessly and innovatively, with vastly reduced resources to ensure our tourism and hospitality sectors were able to function, and were resilient enough to immediately retool as the pandemic subsided,” she added.
The CHTA president, who is the Group Director of Marketing & Sales at The Courtleigh Hospitality Group, noted that tourism, which employs more women than men, traditionally has been the economic sector that rebounds most quickly after crises, “but the existing inequalities mean that the region is not getting the most out of its major bread earner because women are not being given the leadership responsibilities they so richly deserve.”
Madden-Greig, who last year received Jamaica’s prestigious Order of Distinction, contended that while there are a small number of women in leadership positions in tourism, they deliver outstanding results, making effective changes to ensure that the Caribbean tourism product remains among the most desired offerings in the world.
“We know that diversity builds strength, resilience and increased productivity in organisations, so the long overdue elevation of women to more leadership roles in tourism will only help our region not only to recover from devastating storms, the crippling COVID-19 pandemic, and the impacts of climate change but also to thrive in a new world with new possibilities,” she stated.
“We have witnessed, and benefited from, the skill and strength women brought to this global crisis, and it is very much in our best interest to ensure the perspectives of women are integrated into policy planning and implementation at all levels of pandemic responses, our recovery, and our continued advancement of global tourism,” she said.
Madden-Greig continued: “We applaud the many female tourism trailblazers who paved the way for today’s acceleration of women into leadership positions throughout the Caribbean, including CHTA’s first female president, Berthia Parle of St Lucia, who more than 15 years ago set the stage for a new era of public-private sector collaboration to elevate the industry’s stature and advance tourism’s development throughout the region.”
Madden-Greig also saluted past presidents Karolin Troubetzkoy of St Lucia and Patricia Affonso-Dass of Barbados, who “carried the torch and set a great platform for me to follow.”
“As I continue in this fine legacy, I reach towards the upcoming young female leaders to whom we will pass the baton and challenge them to align their personal goals to undertake service to their nation and region, to build new alliances and to collaborate on advancing the voice of women in tourism throughout our region and the world. “We also challenge owners and decision makers throughout the region to look at providing gender balance at both the C-suite level and throughout their organisations with equity in compensation and respect for the ideas and contributions of the women in tourism,” said Madden-Greig.