In recognition of the smaller players whose hard work the tourism sector is built upon, and the need to ensure that “no one is left” behind, President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Nicola Madden-Greig has come out strongly on the importance of Caribbean nationals deriving more benefits from the tourism industry, leading to greater generational wealth for residents of the region.
Speaking at the first Global Tourism Resilience Conference, which was recently held in Kingston, Jamaica, she said this goal can be achieved by focusing on building an entrepreneurial class and through the continued strengthening of small- and medium-sized tourism enterprises.
She reminded the audience that tourism in the Caribbean was started by “the mom and pops in the small communities” and was followed by the “big players” who saw the huge potential of tourism.
“As we continue to grow, we have to make sure that we use tourism to build out our entrepreneurial class … but also to look at generational wealth and not solely be employees, but become owners of the product and the experience,” said Madden-Greig, who believes this ought to be one of the fundamental pillars of resilience.
She cited opportunities for young people in technology, website development, accounting and legal services as often-overlooked aspects of the tourism sector.
“All of this is available to us and to our nationals to push as the backward linkages of tourism. It’s not just about the top line levels, but everything else,” she commented.
The CHTA president, who is the Group Director of Marketing & Sales for The Courtleigh Hospitality Group, also called for the combining of forces in the region to build resilience, strengthen tourism and promote multi-destination travel.
“We need to look at one Caribbean strategy where everybody understands that the Caribbean is not a place you visit once; it’s a place you visit numerous times because of the diversity of the region,” she said.
Hailing the conference as a timely examination of the key elements needed to strengthen the region’s major economic driver, Madden-Greig extended special congratulations to Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett on birthing the idea for the meeting as well as driving the international community’s adoption of Global Tourism Resilience Day on February 17.
“This is a monumental achievement that will help to remind us annually of the need to focus on building out a resilient and sustainable industry,” she said.
Similar tourism discussions with concrete action items, she noted, will be tabled during CHTA’s Caribbean Travel Forum and Awards, a precursor to Caribbean Travel Marketplace, to be held in Barbados from May 9 to 11 this year.