WASHINGTON -- Enrique De Marchena, new president of the Caribbean Hotel Association from the Dominican Republic, took the reins of power for the 2008-2010 term on a platform that included raising awareness and respect for the hospitality and tourism industries, collaboration and cooperation between governments and peoples of the Caribbean, development of human resource programs, integration of tourism into the region's economy and tackling the impact of airline service cutbacks.

De Marchena, who succeeded Peter Odle of Barbados as the new CHA head, is creating a Council of Past CHA Presidents to meet twice a year because "the 21st century brings new challenges for the world, the Caribbean and tourism. Our first challenge is the integration of the private sector into the role of tourism."

CHA and the Caribbean Tourism Organization now need "to come together under the Caribbean brand as a region to improve the marketing of our hotels, the destinations and the region to increase the flow of vacationers to the Caribbean. The consumer sees us in the Caribbean as one region, but we do not see ourselves through the same eyes."

The air crises affecting the Caribbean "are bound to have serious effects on our Caribbean economies which are more tourism dependent than any other region in the world," De Marchena said.

He called for greater solidarity in dealing with the airline cutback situation by raising the consciousness of politicians, pushing for infrastructure investments and additional promotional funds for tourism.

De Marchena is a lawyer and a hotel developer in the Dominican Republic; he is recognized as the legal counsel with the most expertise in the tourism sector of the DR.

He served as president of the National Association of Hotels and Restaurants from 2004 to 2006.

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