The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) will host its annual State of the Industry Conference in Grenada Oct. 10 through 13. And although the theme, and the lineup of speakers, workshops and presentations, were selected long before Irma and Maria left their devastating marks in the northeastern Caribbean, it is those storms and their aftermath that surely will dominate and drive many of the discussions.
In fact, the CTO added a special session to the conference program that will focus on how to recover and rebuild after a major disaster.
The three-hour session on Oct. 12, Rebuild and Recovery -- The Future of Caribbean Tourism -- will explore and examine the issues and key recommendations to be considered as the Caribbean rebuilds after the Category 5 storms, in particular, or about other natural disasters it might face in the future.
The session will focus on the economic cost of the disasters, including potential impacts on gross domestic product, employment, the cost to rebuild and recovery time.
Leading experts in disaster preparedness and mitigation, recovery, funding, airport development and maintenance, airlines, cruise lines, telecommunications and media as well as representatives of the hotel sector and member countries that have experienced and recovered from major catastrophes will share their knowledge and expertise.
It's likely that the portion of the session that gives voice to the CTO member countries directly impacted by natural disaster will be especially riveting.
Advice and recommendations from experts in the field of recovery planning hopefully will offer hope and encouragement to those islands still reeling from Irma and Maria.
With relief supplies now better organized, targeted and publicized, aid to those island countries in desperate need finally is more than just a trickle. Fundraising efforts have skyrocketed in the past two weeks as well from all manner of companies and individuals, some supporting industry efforts, such as CTO's fund and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association's Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund in partnership with Tourism Cares.
The official theme of the conference is: "Supercharging the Brand: Meeting the Needs of the New Explorers."
The State of the Industry's keynote speaker is Dorsey Levens, a former NFL running back who helped lead the Green Bay Packers to its first championship in 29 years in 1996
He'll share some of the secrets on what it takes to get up and succeed after being knocked down.
"I will focus on rapid rebound and will touch on how to take control of life without excuses and how to navigate successfully through stressful situations and keep moving forward," he said. " I would like nothing more than to motivate and inspire delegates to get back on track after the damage caused by the hurricanes."
Levens has served as executive producer for Bell Rung, a documentary focused on the long-term effects and health issues suffered by many former pro football players.
Hugh Riley, CTO secretary general, pointed out that Levens demonstrated throughout his career how to rebound from adversity and win against all odds.
"Our members will welcome him as our keynoter for his insights into what it takes to emerge stronger from the challenges we face on the way to becoming winners," Riley said.
A timely topic indeed.