By Dana Niland
It’s time for the region to make a greater investment in Caribbean people, according to Patricia Affonso-Dass, the new president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.
Affonso-Dass, who will address this week’s 9th Tourism Human Resources Conference hosted by the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, applauded the work of CTO, CHTA and many companies and destinations in the region which are developing and recognizing tourism industry talent.
“In spite of our small size, we have produced some of the most creative and talented people in the worlds of music, sports, arts, business and education,” said Affonso-Dass, who grew up in Dominica, Trinidad, Antigua and Guyana, before moving to Barbados where she has worked for the past 20 years.
Speaking ahead of this week’s conference, she challenged regional leaders to build on this foundation with a greater commitment to investing in education and training, sharing and recognizing best practices, and shaping meaningful partnerships between business, education, training institutions, labor unions and governments.
“A new level of commitment and engagement towards the development of our people must be commensurate with our recognition that our people are our greatest resource and we must challenge ourselves, our businesses, and institutions to recognize and develop not just our general workforce but most especially our young leaders,” she said.
Affonso-Dass, who is the Group General Manager of Ocean Hotels in Barbados, said Caribbean people must “believe in one another and invest in each other so that we can elevate our delivery of world-class experiences for those who invest their hard-earned dollars in a vacation experience in the region.”
During the conference, themed “Building a Resilient, High-performing and Sustainable Caribbean Tourism Workforce for Global Competitiveness,” the veteran hotelier will address the importance of harnessing the energy and passion of the region’s tourism workforce to innovate.
“Now is not the time to be complacent on this issue, but to reflect on the accomplishments of our people and build on them,” she said. “We are a world-class region with a rich heritage and legacy — so we must continue to embed excellence and innovation within our culture and across our industry to stay ahead of our competition.”