Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Conference cancelled – lack of interest!

Is this a problem with the organisation behind the conference, or something that goes much deeper?

Is this a backlash against Barbados for REDjet, Shanique Myrie, CARICOM movement rights, health care for immigrants and a host of other grievances?

by WSD

The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association just announced that their (ahem) “much anticipated” inaugural annual summit scheduled for June 1-3 in Barbados has been cancelled due to low registration numbers. Unmentioned in the brief press sheet are the reasons why the conference failed – or if the organizers have even started to understand what happened.

Your writer is not in the tourism business, but I have some questions and observations as an ordinary Bajan. Let’s see if my thoughts are shared or disputed by those in tourism and Barbadians in general.

Barbados and the BHTA were heavily committed to this conference, but the conference website shows only four commercial sponsors – only two of which are major companies recognizable to your non-tourism writer (LG and MasterCard). Was this an adequate level of sponsorship interest for a conference that represented itself to be a major summit by a major organisation?

Contrast the Barbados 4 commercial sponsors with the 22 sponsors of the May 10-12, 2011 Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference held in Jamaica.

Was the dearth of sponsors in Barbados a fault of the conference organizers, or fallout from a damaged economy and lower advertising budgets? Was the Barbados conference scheduled too closely to another major event?

Was enough notice given to the tourism industry about the conference itself and the apparently excellent list of speakers? (See BFP’s TripAdvisor’s Brian Payea coming to Barbados)

Backlash against Barbados?

Barbados is under heavy criticism (some of it entirely justified in my opinion) from our Caribbean brothers and sisters over a variety of issues including the lack of health care for LEGAL immigrants and LEGAL visiting workers in Barbados, and the REDjet situation where the airline and the Barbados government failed to show sufficient respect to the laws and sovereignty of Jamaica and T&T.

Then we come to the Shanique Myrie situation where a Jamaican visitor claims she was “finger-raped” by Barbadian authorities upon arrival, held in squalid conditions and deported the next day. Whatever the truth of her story, it doesn’t matter because the damage was done. More important, Shanique Myrie is seen by other Caribbean nationals as just another incident in a long history of similar incidents in Barbados whether reported in the news or not.

Like it or not, the truth is that Barbados as a country and Barbadians as a people are increasingly seen by the rest of the Caribbean as acting arrogantly and disrespectfully in our relations with other nations and on a personal level with visitors.

Remember, it doesn’t matter if this is true or not. It only matters that many other Caribbean nationals believe it is true, or at least have that impression.

It would be a big mistake for Bajans and tourism organizers to assume that the failure of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Conference is only about the conference itself. There might be something much bigger happening that needs to be recognized and immediately addressed at all levels.

Submitted by BFP reader WSD. Edited and headlined by Marcus.

Further Reading

Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Conference website

eTurboNews: Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association cancels conference

23 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Culture & Race Issues, Tourism

23 responses to “Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Conference cancelled – lack of interest!

  1. what will they think of next.

    They can come or don’t come, who the hell cares.
    Not me.
    Maybe the message is finally getting through. Ever so welcome wait for a call.

  2. Bajan

    Who the hell cares some organisation who thinks they can sway peoples opinion and STILL bring the myrie case into the article as well. One minute they issue travel warnings about jamaica because of all their crime, anti-gay and ‘chant down babylon lyrics’ and now they’re saying its us not getting along with our neighbours. I don’t think so!
    It seems the jamaicans are still trying it on, they think because they made some stale sounding music called reggea they can garner support from well known people to support this garbage talk and lies.
    Well well, look whose in somebody back pocket. The good news is, for all this everybodies economy will go down -like the titanic.
    Bajans don’t have no problems with other islands just LYING Jamaicans!

  3. observer

    I have a problem with the correlation of the cancellation of the conference; people living here legally and working legally not being able to access free health care, the immigartion issue and the allegeded finger rape case.

    It is clear that this person has a political agenda, a policy is a policy. Until it is changed those are the facts of life, so take it or lump it. The reason why sociieties across the region are decaying is because there is no consistency in implementing rules and policies. We want decisions made on emotionalism and connections.

    The writer is oblivioius to the fact that the young lady has been invited to some to Barbados to identify those persons who she allegedly climed to have finger raped her, until she comes I backing the immigration officers. By the way, our conditions at the aiport where people are detained are quite comfortable. The writer reminds me of the story of the dog and his shadow and the fox and the grapes.

    He/she should find something to truly wite about as the immigration issuses, thos entitle to free health care and the finger rapes iss have been well ventialed, so go find something to write about.

  4. Leadership

    too many Indians and not enough real Chiefs.

    It all starts at the top by example and disciplined teamwork.

  5. watcher

    Nobody could afford the high air fare to get here nor the high cost of hotels to stay at here let alone the high cost of rum or 17% VAT….

  6. what will they think of next.

    Well stay home, watcher.

  7. Peltdownman

    I’m puzzled, because the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) does not show this conference in its schedule for 2011 on its website. Coming, as it does, so soon after the CHTIC (investment) conference on 10th and 11th of this month, it is hardly surprising that participation is low. There is such a thing as “conference fatigue” and this looks like one of those events where the same people who attended CHTIC would be meeting in Barbados again, with the associated expense. Sorry to disappoint the theauthor of the article, but it has nothing to do with any of those extraneous matters.

  8. watcher

    @what will they think of next…

    i agree with your comment…..thst is the resoloution peole are applying to the problem…well thought out and said.

  9. what will they think of next.

    BTW, I haven’t heard much from Loveridge since the little debacle over at his Inn.
    I guess he is now paying more attention to “service” over there than trying to be Minister Of Tourism without facing the electorate.

  10. I respectfully disagree

    The anti-Jamaican diatribes from barbados on this and other stories are not needed. Jamaicans know you hate us. You hatefilled people from a nothing country like Barbados cause too much trouble. There are many Shanique Myries in Jamaica. You treat all Jamaicans like they are criminals. Your pissass little tourist economy is nothing compared with Jamaica. We don’t need you and we don’t come to Barbados for any pissass conference. Jus see if the Caribbean Hotel Tourism Association schedule more conference in Barbados when %38 of the membership is Jamaican!

  11. Tootsie Brown

    Readers:
    Conferences represent a profit cente for all of these associations. The conference the CHTA cancelled was scheduled a few days before the Caribbean Tourism Organisation- Caribbean Week in new York which is June 5-11. Poor planning in relation to timing or a way of competing with CTO. CTO’s conference is annual has been for decades.

  12. Sayin

    THE ALREADY VOLATILE Barbados-Jamaica relations just took another ill turn.

    It was basket-brawl at the Barbados Community College as the anticipated UWI Games title clash between two-time champs Cave Hill and Mona came to a premature halt following an all-out fracas between opposing players and fans in what was one ugly Wednesday night brawl.

    http://www.nationnews.com/articles/view/basket-brawl-at-uwi-games/

  13. Sayin

    @ Tootsie Brown

    Like the story at bfp says there could be many business reasons for the cancellation but I think it would be unwise to not consider other reasons. Jamaicans have had enough disrespect from Barbados and they will push back.

  14. what will they think of next.

    “I respectfully disagree” , who cares?
    In a Country where the national pastime is murdering each other, we could certainly do without you killers.

  15. Voice from afar

    Respect Respect —Respect what, Respect whom??

  16. observer

    Barbaados is a gem to Jamiaca, with well developed infrastures. Our resources are used for the people. We do need to be preached to about our coutry, though small we are an educated nation. We value life.

  17. Voice from afar

    Barbados is like the ‘curates egg’ and I love it, love it.

  18. what will they think of next

    Jamaicans are so violent that they have to be locked down constantly by the security forces. Otherwise they would go on the rampage like wild animals.
    We are not missing anything when they don’t come here, in fact it is a blessing in disguise.
    St Catherine locked down under under 14 curfews

    14 curfews – 11 in the north and three in the south – are being enforced by security forces until 6:00 pm on Sunday.

    Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/St-Catherine-locked-down-under-under-14-curfews#ixzz1NeFKUdaM
    Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/St-Catherine-locked-down-under-under-14-curfews#ixzz1NeEZGiHh

    We have not had a curfew in Barbados in the last FIFTY YEARS! We want to keep it that way.

  19. Laughing

    I could kiss Tootsie Brown. I dont know why people assume that the CHTA thing has anything to do with Barbados-Jamaica relations. Because the last conference they had was in Jamaica? Because the CEO is Jamaican? Because the President is Jamaican?

    It has to do with profits. In the real scheme of things, Barbados and Jamaica are the only two English speaking countries with economies and facilities to accomodate conferences of the anticipated size of this one. Regional associations and organizations do use these conferences to raise additional money to aid their survival.

    The thing nobody said is that the recent Jamaican conference was a flop, a major flop and therefore the CHTA lost money and had no money to pay for another flop. It is all about dollars people not country relations. If the conference had come here, the Barbados government would have had to pay the bill. Kudos to the Ministry of Tourism in Barbados and the BTA for making a very very sound business decision.

    The same people above who were ‘news tracking’ should have tracked the fact that the Jamaica conference was moved to a new location due a lack of registrations as well. I am very sure the original location announced for the May 10-12 conference was a different and much larger location to where it eventually took place.

    Stop trying to stir up a Jamaica-Barbados conflict. It looks lame to see the ‘future’ leaders of the Caribbean fighting at a basketball match….STUPSE!

  20. what will they think of next

    ……….. I keep telling you guys that CARICOM is not the romantic vision that Calypsonians have. It is dog eat dog and the dislike of BARBADOS is deep and unyielding. I know this but know too that CARICOM is the solution to us all but it is a FIGHT not a LOVE FEST.

    LYNETTE EASTMOND

  21. Tourism Consultant

    The CHTA conference in Jamaica was a tremendous success – I was there!! The reason this conference was cancelled was the timing was less than ideal and yes it was too close to the CTO annual conference.

  22. sharon

    Many persons who have commented on this website have not had the pleasure or displeasure of experiencing the inhumane, disrespectful treatment of your immigration officers to caribbean nationals, soon very soon when your caribbean brothers start to speak up more, everyone will sadly begin to boycott barbados

  23. J. Payne

    Anyone catch the Barbados Today?

    Artice: High air fare the cause
    Date: 2011-05-31
    Source: http://www.BarbadosToday.bb – Barbados Today newspaper

    Link: http://news.barbadostoday.bb/barticlenew.php?ptitle=High+air+fare+the+cause&article=6255

    Ticket costs and cramped calendar blamed for conference cancellation.

    Blame it on an overloaded conference calendar and crippling air fares.

    That’s what Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association President Colin Jordan has blames for the poor registration and resulting cancellation of the inaugural Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Conference.

    Main organisers, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, announced last week that the event, scheduled to be held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre from tomorrow until Friday had been cancelled.

    The CHTA’s Conferences and Events Director Vanessa Ledesma- Berrios said “the registration numbers were deemed too low to have resulted in a conference with the substance and character we had envisioned”.

    Jordan, who was to be one of the main presenters at the event, and whose organisation, along with the Barbados Tourism Authority were key players in the event, told Barbados today that there were two main factors he felt contributed to low interest and subsequent abandonment of the conference.

    “I think that this is a specific matter. Just a few weeks ago there was the CTO Sustainable Conference in Bermuda. CHTA just had an investment conference in Montego Bay. Caribbean Week is at the beginning of June. It’s probably overload,” he said.

    There is also the matter of air fares. They are too high for tourism business people to travel around the Caribbean. Something needs to be done, very quickly, about airfares and competition within the region.”

    “The backward, anti-competitive attitudes and actions must be banished. Otherwise backward governments must be made to pay by the electorate,” Jordan stated.

    Reacting to continuing criticisms and concern that the cancellation would send a bad message to the marketplace the Caribbean drew its tourists from, the CHTA also agreed that high airfares had been a significant deterrent.

    “There are fundamental issues impacting general tourism development in the region which also impacted our conference. These primarily include the lack of airlift and the high cost of available seats on a limited … basis,” it said.

    “Some of the destinations are limited to a daily LIAT flight or delegates have to go to Miami and then head back south to Barbados as a result of the lost American Eagle service to San Juan and San Juan to Barbados.”

    Ledesma-Berrios had said the plan was to have “an even more vibrant programme next year as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary of CHTA in Barbados in June 2012”.

    Jordan also said he agreed with the general views expressed by Caribbean Tourism Organisation Secretary-General Hugh Riley on the issue.

    When faced with a question of lower than normal turnouts at tourism conferences in recent times, while attending the Caribbean Hotel and Investment Conference recently held in Montego Bay, Riley said “conferences are having a very difficult time this year, because people had kind of hoped, myself included, that there would have been an improvement over what happened last year”.

    “I have been at a few in the last six months that have reported universally that their numbers are down from previous years. People are having to make choices about how many times they want to leave their offices and … their country — budgets are still tight,” he said. (SC)