#USA, May 19, 2022 – John Bell, the first Executive Director of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), was honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS), which he was instrumental in launching.
Taking place at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida this week, the coveted honor was bestowed upon Bell for his significant contributions to the hospitality industry. Fellow tourism legend and former CHTA CEO and Director General Alec Sanguinetti accepted the award on Bell’s behalf.
Among his many achievements, Bell, who was the guiding force of CHTA (formerly the Caribbean Hotel Association or CHA) for 29 years, was lauded for recognizing the critical need to get investors and financial institutions engaged in the Caribbean hotel sector. He launched the first investment conference in 1997, triggering prolific growth in the region’s leading sector.
“We thought that it would be a good idea to bring the financial community into some kind of a direct contact with the hotel industry (so) we decided the best way to do that was to partner with another company, which in that case was the Financial Times of London,” Bell said. “We got them to become involved and use their clout to bring in the different players … and it worked extremely well,” he added.
In her tribute, current CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig noted that “it is not often that we get to honor living legends in our field,” adding that Bell’s vision and energy “framed the key role of tourism in the economies of the Caribbean.”
Frank Comito, who served as CEO and Director General of CHTA until January 2021, described CHRIS, which Bell envisioned more than 25 years ago, as “the single most important factor which contributed to the phenomenal growth of Caribbean tourism.”
Comito asserted the growth and development of Caribbean tourism “stands on the broad shoulders of John Bell, whose drive, vision, and persuasive nature over three decades laid the foundation on which we continue to build today.”
Vanessa Ledesma, CHTA’s Acting CEO and Director General who was originally hired by Bell, pointed to the catalytic role the investment summit played in the development of Caribbean economies.
She cited The Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Jamaica as key beneficiaries as early host destinations for the investment conference in the 1990s. “These destinations and the region have much to be grateful to John for his leadership, which helped to propel tourism’s growth throughout the Caribbean,” Ledesma stated.
US Milestone Celebrated
#Jamaica, June 30, 2022 – This year marks the United States of America’s (USA) 246th anniversary of Independence, and the milestone was celebrated with a reception on June 28 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston. The event also featured the traditional United States Marine Corps Colour Guard ceremony.
“The Government of Jamaica is pleased to join in commemorating this milestone with our American friends and partners. Today we celebrate a nation that continues to give practical meaning to the declaration of Independence and the vision of the founding fathers for the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These tenets have been central to the growth and development of the Union since 1776 and its transformation as a global leader,” he said.
For his part, US Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Nick Perry, said the countries’ partnership has been rewarding, and expressed the United States’ continued commitment to strengthening the cooperation between the nations.
“On behalf of the United States Mission to Jamaica, thank you for joining us as we celebrate the 246th anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America. As we celebrate America’s independence, we also celebrate 60 years of partnership between our two countries. Together we have promoted democracy, human rights, and shared security concerns,” he said.
Jamaica established diplomatic relations with the United States in 1962, following its independence from the United Kingdom.
The partnership focuses on reducing corruption; increasing transparency and good governance; fostering Jamaican participation in regional security efforts; strengthening basic education; and increasing energy resiliency.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US has provided more than US$16.4 million as well as donations of vaccines to assist Jamaica’s containment measures.
Additionally, over the last 12 months, the United States has collaborated with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to issue a record number of H2 visas, bringing critical, temporary labour to the US, while providing jobs for thousands of Jamaicans that resulted in millions of dollars in remittances.
Significantly, the Peace Corps, which is also celebrating 60 years of partnership with Jamaica this year, will resume its operations on the island beginning September, following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
Contact: Rochelle Williams
Positive Outlook for Caribbean Tourism
June, 30, 2022 – The president of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig, says tourism in the Caribbean is recovering faster than expected.
While presenting at the CHTA ‘Caribbean Tourism Fireworks’, she said the Caribbean travel and tourism sector experienced the second-fastest recovery of all regions in 2021. Travel and Tourism have contributed to the gross domestic product (GDP) by 36.6 per cent. She added that they have recovered over 311,000 jobs.
“That is really a testament to how fast Caribbean tourism has been able to come back into play,” said Madden-Greig.
January and February were not as successful because of the uprising of the COVID-19 omicron variant. Travel heightened between March and June, and Madden-Greig reported that summer looks promising and that they “expect that winter 2022-2023 will also be strong”.
“For the June to August period, [the Caribbean is] ahead of our 2019 airline arrivals in terms of what is forecast and on the books by upwards of two per cent,” she said.
The CHTA’s Caribbean Tourism Fireworks is what the trade association uses to communicate regional tourism performance and outlook survey results. In addition to the performance reports, other topics were discussed including the recognition of Caribbean tourism’s resilience; that investments by the tourism industry in capital improvements, health safety and product value are underpinning the region’s tourism recovery; and that labour shortages present immediate and long-term opportunities.
CHTA urged employers, governments, education and training institutions to recruit new employees and prepare communities for careers, employment and ownership opportunities within the sector.
Also present at the CHTA Caribbean Tourism Firework were CHTA’s acting CEO and Director General, Vanessa Ledesma, Jamaican hotelier Clifton Reader, and the chair of CHTA’s Advocacy Committee.
While the speakers agreed that intra-Caribbean travel has great opportunities, they share that there are connectivity issues and issues with preserving, protecting and enhancing the region’s natural resources.
Sandals Resorts International Appoints Rachel McLarty as Corporate Director of Communications & Public Relations
Communications Executive Rejoins Brand After Tenure at Distinguished Jamaican Law Firm
MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA, June 15, 2022 – Sandals Resorts International recently announced the appointment of Rachel McLarty to Corporate Director of Communications & Public Relations, overseeing the company’s corporate communication efforts and public relations initiatives for the Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts brands throughout the Caribbean. Reporting to Executive Chairman Adam Stewart and CEO Gebhard Rainer, McLarty returns to the organization after a ten-year hiatus where she previously held the position of Group Director of Corporate Relations.
“We are in a moment of tremendous momentum and require a skilled, expert hand to navigate through what will be an upcoming decade of unprecedented growth for the organization,” said Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of SRI. “Rachel McLarty is that voice in the Caribbean, and we are thrilled to welcome her back to the company as we celebrate our 40th anniversary and plan for the next forty.”
McLarty, who will be based in the Kingston headquarters of Sandals Resorts International, will lead a talented team of public relations and communication professionals in Jamaica and throughout the entire Caribbean region. During her first tenure with SRI, McLarty served as Group Director of Corporate Relations for the organization for a period of five years, beginning in 2006. Prior to rejoining the company, she served as an attorney-at-law at Myers, Fletcher & Gordon, one of the largest law firms in Jamaica. She is deeply committed to improving and developing Caribbean communities, currently sitting as Chairman of the Board for St. Andrew High School for Girls and the SOS Children’s Villages in Jamaica.
“Sandals Resorts International remains the brand standard for Caribbean organizations, and it is an honour to rejoin the company at such a prolific time,” said McLarty. “And while I have certainly followed the tremendous success of the brands in the last decade, I have remained even more impressed by the organization’s continued commitment to the Caribbean, the region we all call home. I look forward to the incredible work to be done.”
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