CHTA online roundtables seek to build stronger Caribbean tourism

CHTA online roundtables seek to build stronger Caribbean tourism

Thursday, September 24, 2020

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MIAMI, Florida — The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is using online roundtable discussions as part of its wider efforts to help accelerate the rebuilding of the Caribbean tourism sector and to ensure the region emerges from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) stronger than it was before the pandemic brought the lifeblood industry to a virtual standstill.

CHTA Roundtables, which kicked off last week, will be held each Friday for another five weeks, gathering peer groups on Zoom meetings to receive brief industry updates, hear from leaders in the region, and share in candid dialogue on challenges, successes, and best practices.

Opening the inaugural event, CHTA President Patricia Affonso-Dass described the sessions as proactive efforts “to embrace and provide a valuable service to hospitality and tourism stakeholders in the region”.

Hotel owners, managing directors, general managers and human resources leaders; hospitality and tourism allied members and suppliers; tourism business leaders affiliated with restaurants, attractions and other activities; and other tourism stakeholders are being invited to participate in various virtual discussions.

Affonso-Dass is keen to bring together CHTA members, non-members and all those invested in the industry's future to chart a way forward: “Our collective ideas, increased engagement – both at a national and regional level and at all levels of our organisations – and an active relationship with our public sector colleagues and agencies, as well as those in health, will be critical to our being able to survive and more importantly, thrive, after COVID.”

The CHTA president asserted that the rebuilding and reimagining of the sector depends on everyone. “This is a time for out-of-the-box thinking, dreaming big, keeping our eyes firmly fixed on the future ... it presents us with an amazing opportunity to define what we want our businesses and our region to look like for the coming years,” she said.

Affonso-Dass urged roundtable participants to challenge established ideas and freely share concerns and challenges. “This is our association, our region, our industry and it is up to us to ensure that we come out of COVID better and stronger than we were before this all began,” she encouraged her colleagues.

Frank Comito, CEO and director general of CHTA, concurred the roundtables presented “a unique opportunity to become a part of the solution of 'Building Back the Caribbean”.

CHTA, said it plans to parlay the information gathered through the virtual gatherings to guide future association activities. “This consultative process is one that not only helps to define current needs, but also helps stakeholders to engage with #MyCHTA and help the association work for them,” said Comito.

The organisation said each 60-minute roundtable will be limited to 40 participants in order to stimulate candid discussion and peer networking. "If demand exceeds the available slots for each meeting, additional same-day meetings will be offered," it said.

CHTA outlined that since the start of the pandemic, it has moved its educational sessions online and has successfully hosted more than 20 editions of “CHTALive: The Resilience Series,” as well as a series on health safety training. Other offerings included several live “Limin' wid Taste” discussions with food and beverage professionals as well as “Caribbean Tourism Fireworks”, a series of online press conferences featuring public and private sector representatives from destinations in the region providing insight on their respective pandemic responses.

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