The theme of this year’s World Tourism Day, “Tourism and Jobs: A better future for all”, is particularly relevant for the Caribbean because no other sector creates more jobs or more opportunities in a wider variety of professions and skills.
In addition to the 2.5 million people employed directly, many more benefit indirectly from the industry’s contributions to Caribbean health, wealth, education and the environment. Our infrastructure, schools, hospitals, public services, and parks and recreation facilities are all helped by this dynamic and growing industry – already the world’s largest sector but also its fastest growing.
The 2017 hurricanes and Hurricane Dorian that devastated some of our destinations reinforced the indispensable role of tourism in our lives. They remind us that for each tourism employee unable to work because of the storms, many members of their families were also affected.
Initiatives such as “Tourism Jobs for Bahamians”, just launched by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) together with the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), are finding interim jobs for displaced industry professionals.
There will be more jobs as tourism recovers from the hurricanes and the industry resumes its healthy growth trend, and our task is to spread the benefits more equitably to a wider cross section of our people. We want to ensure women, youth, minorities, and the differently abled have open gateways to employment, ownership and leadership within the industry. There are over 1,000 different job and career paths in the industry, a fifth of which are at supervisory and management levels. Increasing diversity always strengthens companies and organizations, especially in tourism. Our visitors come from a wide range of backgrounds, so our people who welcome visitors to our shores should also reflect the full spectrum of our rich human diversity.
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, with the support of many of the region’s local associations and our members, is earnest about its mandate to develop our industry’s human resources. Well over 500 Caribbean nationals have received higher education scholarships through the CHTA Education Foundation. More than 1,000 chefs and several hundred bartenders have honed their skills through professional development opportunities that CHTA and the industry have provided through our Taste of the Caribbean initiative.
Thousands of employees have benefited from industry-sponsored professional development training, including over 500 who attended “diversity in the workplace” courses over the past year. Earlier this year, CHTA launched its Young Leaders Initiative, in which dozens of young people are developing their leadership skills and their understanding of the industry and the opportunities it offers.
This does not include the additional investments that independent hotels, resort brands, airlines, tour operators, attractions, taxi and transportation providers, vendors and other industry stakeholders, with their human resource professionals and employees, are making every day to deliver exceptional hospitality.
Building upon a rich foundation, we have the responsibility to make more opportunities to develop our people and our industry, anticipating technological and consumer demand-driven changes which are now a constant. The recent collapse of the world’s oldest travel agency offers more lessons. While never losing sight of the fundamentals of hospitality, the dynamics of our industry demands our adaptability and responsiveness to change if we are not to face a similar fate.
Tourism can benefit every corner of our region and so on this World Tourism Day, we celebrate the importance of the industry and the employment and entrepreneurial opportunities it represents. We resolve individually and collectively, as businesses, governments and education and training institutions, to continue to invest in our people.
In the Caribbean, “Tourism is Everyone’s Business”.
About the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA)
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is the Caribbean’s leading association representing the interests of national hotel and tourism associations. For more than 50 years, CHTA has been the backbone of the Caribbean hospitality industry. Working with some 1,000 hotel and allied members, and 33 National Hotel Associations, CHTA is shaping the Caribbean’s future and helping members to grow their businesses. Whether helping to navigate critical issues in sales and marketing, sustainability, legislative issues, emerging technologies, climate change, data and intelligence or, looking for avenues and ideas to better market and manage businesses, CHTA is helping members on issues which matter most.
For further information, visit www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com.