The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s “Icon of Hospitality” title celebrates the careers and lives of extraordinary leaders whose work in Caribbean hospitality has stood the test of time and left its mark on CHTA and the region. The association’s new ultimate recognition honors legendary professionals who have not only achieved phenomenal business success but have also mentored and molded those aiming for excellence in this industry.

John Bell

The Trinidad-based Bell, CHTA’s first executive director, was the guiding force of the CHTA (formerly CHA) for 29 years. His framing of the key role of tourism in the economies of the Caribbean elevated the organization from its status as a traditional trade association to being the premier tourism organization for the Caribbean’s private sector.

Prior to his leadership of CHTA, Bell was President of the Trinidad and Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association, 1971-1974; General Manager of Bel Air Hotel in Trinidad, 1967-1974; and Assistant Manager of Blue Lagoon Hotel, St. Vincent, 1964-1967. He began his tenure at CHTA (then CHA) in 1974 as the first executive director and chairman of the Small Hotels Advisory Council.

In addition to bringing together tourism and hospitality associations across the region, Bell is credited with driving membership of and interest in the work of CHTA, overseeing the creation of Caribbean Travel Marketplace, the Taste of the Caribbean culinary event, the Leadership Conference for national hotel association executives, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference, the Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference, the Caribbean Gold Book and the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, the region’s pioneering environmental organization. Most of these initiatives continue to benefit the industry today, serving as a lasting legacy to Bell’s work.