Eliminating the barriers to intraregional air travel by easing visa regulations to make travel easier, more accessible and cheaper for Caribbean nationals is one of several goals set by Richard Doumeng, newly sworn-in president of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA). His term runs for two years.
“Intra-Caribbean tourism is down by 40% in the last five years,” Doumeng said. “This is a vicious circle because if it is difficult to get from island to island or within the region, it limits the number of people who will travel.”
Fewer regulations would mean more people would travel and the fares would come down, “and that changes the whole equation,” according to Doumeng.
Doumeng, a second-generation hotelier (his family owns and operates the Bolongo Bay Beach Resort in St. Thomas), also is a past recipient of the CHTA Caribbean Hotelier of the Year Award.
He wants to return the CHTA, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, to fiscal responsibility, focus its energy and resources on programs “that benefit the most number of people,” enhance the annual Taste of the Caribbean Culinary Competition (the 2012 event concluded June 24 in Miami with participation by teams from 11 Caribbean countries) and strengthen the CHTA’s advocacy awareness with the Tourism Is Key campaign, which was launched by Josef Forstmayr, Doumeng’s predecessor.
“Forging and strengthening the improved relationship between CHTA and the Caribbean Tourism Organization through the Caribbean Tourism Development Co. (CTDC) also is a key goal,” Doumeng said.
The CTDC is the marketing and business development jointly owned by CHTA and CTO to promote and advance the Caribbean brand.
“While the economy is still uncertain, I am optimistic for the future of our region,” Doumeng said. “Together we can reinvigorate revitalize and reinvent the CHTA so that we will thrive, not just survive, in the next 50 years.”
The new slate of CHTA officers for the 2012-2014 term also includes: first vice president, Emil Lee, president, St. Maarten Hotel & Trade Association and general manger of Princess Heights Hotel, St. Maarten; second vice president, Alberto Abreu, director of hospitality, Punta Cana Resort & Club, Dominican Republic; third vice president, Karolin Troubetzkoy, president, St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association and owner and executive director of Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain Resort; fourth vice president, Evelyn Smith, president of the Jamaica Hotel & Tourism Association and general manager, Tensing Pen, Jamaica; and fifth vice president, Willem Jonckheer, CEO of Jonckheer Advertising and Marketing, Curacao.