New Caribbean Tourism Organization Chairman Speaks Out

Minister of Tourism for St. Kitts - Nevis - Richard Skerritt

Minister of Tourism for St. Kitts – Nevis – Richard Skerritt

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
October 10, 2010 (CUOPM)

Newly-elected Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Tourism, Sen. the Hon. Richard “Ricky” Skerritt said Sunday that while the Caribbean brand is well known throughout the world for pristine beaches, wonderful weather and a welcoming people, world-class level service must be delivered if the region is to compete effectively world-wide destinations.

In his inaugural address during the opening ceremony of the first CTO Leadership Strategy Conference, which is taking place in Barbados, Minister Skerritt said it was no secret that the world has changed significantly over the past 2 years as a result of global economic conditions.

He pointed out that while Caribbean stakeholders have proven in the past that its tourism is resilient and can rise to meet the challenges, the region continues to be one of the world’s leading tourism areas.

According to the new CTO Chairman it will take a well thought strategy to regain and surpass the arrival levels that Caribbean tourism attracted in 2007 and 2008.

“The good news is that stopover travel is beginning to rebound in our region, albeit more slowly than predicted from some markets. And fortunately for many of our destinations, cruise lines have continued to arrive at our shores with full cabins even at the height of the economic recession,” he said.

Minister Skerritt told stakeholders which included regional ministers of tourism, directors of tourism, and permanent secretaries in the ministries of tourism across the region that it is a different visitor who is arriving in the Caribbean now than in the past.

“This visitor is more demanding, expecting maximum value for money, and is more discerning, seeking a more spiritually fulfilling vacation experience that includes more interaction with local people and a deeper connection with our land and culture. “Our visitor also has access to many more warm weather vacation options than ever before,” said the CTO chairman.

He pointed out that to be successful and competitive in this “new normal” environment requires a captivating and safe destination experience, convenient and affordable airlift, a more sophisticated tourism infrastructure, and a marketing strategy that is carefully targeted, cost-effective, and closely aligned with the authentic product offerings of each of our individual destinations.

Mr. Skerritt said that the leadership conference will provide stakeholders with access to some of the top tourism industry’s thought leaders who will share their insights on the key issues and their ideas of how to adapt change and grow the Caribbean tourism industry.

“We especially look forward to the keynote address from our special guest, BA CEO Willie Walsh, who has been a great supporter of our region since joining BA five years ago. I believe that it is not by accident that Willie carries the title of a former much loved great West Indies fast bowler, Courtney Walsh, who throughout his career was known for his exceptionally big heart and his unique blend of strategic cunningness and perseverance in the face of adversity. Perhaps one of Courtney’s ancestors was named Willie, hailed from Ireland, and was a great lover of Guinness,” said Mr. Skerritt. 

“As the new Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, I pledge to learn from the best, and to do my best to help our organization lead our tourism industry and the Caribbean brand confidently forward to achieve the best tourism results for our region,” said Minister Skerritt.

Discussion at the leadership is focusing on a number of areas including airline networking and planning, attracting air carriers from the right gateways, targeting China’s new millionaires and upscale travelers, and border control within the region.

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