MIAMI -- After two years as president of the Caribbean Hotel Association, Berthia Parle has passed the executive baton to Peter Odle, who had served under Parle as the CHA's first vice president.

The changing of the guard took place at the CHA's annual Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference (CHIC) in late June.

Odle, who is general manager of Mango Bay Beach Hotel in Barbados, also owns Island Inn, Sunswept and Regent in Barbados and assumed the role of chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority on July 1.

In terms of achievements during her two-year term, Parle said that "bridging the great tourism divide and solidifying partnerships with the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association and the European Union" were at the top of her list.

"My reward comes in the knowledge that I was able to contribute my grain of Caribbean sand to set the wheels of change in motion and to take Caribbean tourism to unprecedented heights," she said.

Parle was a visible Caribbean presence in Europe in the past two years, heading up discussions with the European Union in Brussels on the role of Caribbean tourism and the environment as well as the role of tourism as a development tool.

In Austria at the EU's Latin American-Caribbean Summit, Parle spearheaded a presentation on the link between Caribbean tourism and culture.

Education still key

"CHA now is looking outside the hotel industry, and we've got a lot more groups communicating together. I am confident I have built a solid foundation and am excited by what lies ahead for CHA," she said.

Parle remained concerned that "there is still a disconnect between tourism and other ministries of government."

"I advocate an intra-ministerial caucus once a month so that tourism ministers get the ear of and support from other government ministers," she said.

Education and training of Caribbean nationals in the hospitality sector remain critical to fostering a greater understanding of "the important role of tourism in their lives, their livelihoods and in the economies of the entire region," according to Parle.

Odle, who said that he and Parle have similar operating styles, said he intends to follow the path set by his predecessor.

"She reconnected CHA leadership with our members through consultations and frequent communications, and my strategic plan is to take the association forward as she did," Odle said.

Additional plans in the works include a possible reinstatement of the Small Hotels Retreat, which was abandoned several years ago. "The Caribbean's small properties have said they feel a disconnect with the rest of CHA, so we may revisit the idea of holding that retreat again," Odle said.

More than 65% of CHA's member properties are those with 75 rooms or fewer.

The Gold Book, the directory of CHA member hotels published twice a year, "is a revenue stream for CHA but we may examine its format and focus," said Odle.

There's also talk that CHIC may be combined with the Caribbean Tourism Organization's annual confab.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].


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