SAN JUAN -- Berthia Parle, new president of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA), set her agenda in very clear terms in her inauguration speech at the recent Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference (CHIC) here.

Our industry is the platform for our regional economy. I will concentrate on establishing lasting partnerships with regional and international bodies in the Caribbean to consolidate and achieve maximum economic opportunity in tourism, Parle said.

She called on the Caribbean hotel sector to showcase its best practices and to push the envelope of corporate social responsibility to new limits.

We need to do much more to promote our own social programs -- otherwise, we risk being taken for granted for the good that we do, and this will fuel the perception that we are not doing enough, she said.

Parle pointed out that the private sector must work with its public-sector partners, and she said she hopes to have Caricom heads of government and ministers and directors of tourism meet with the private sector at least once a year to discuss, confront and resolve the issues, challenges and needs of this industry.

The new president appealed to CHA members to be proactive in laying the foundation for positive change through constructive networking, dialogue and action.

I have no wish to preside over an organization where members are passive and asleep at the wheel, she said.

Parle, a 30-year hospitality veteran, is the general manager of Bay Gardens Hotel and Bay Gardens Inn in St. Lucia, a leading small hotel in the region.

She served as president of the St. Lucia Hotel & Tourism Association, as a director and an officer of CHA and as chairman of the CHA Small Hotels Committee.

Also at CHIC, St. Maarten hotelier Robert Dubourcq, general manager of Great Bay Beach Resort, was named hotelier of the year. He was one of the founders of the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association.

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

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