Published On: Wed, Oct 14th, 2015

State of the Industry tackles ‘Growth through Innovation’

WillemstadWILLEMSTAD - The Caribbean Tourism Organization has a terrific opportunity to tackle and focus on some hard questions and issues at next week’s annual State of the Industry Conference, taking place at the World Trade Center in Willemstad, Curacao.

The speaker and session presenters lineup has some heavy hitters, including Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue, who will deliver the keynote address; Anita Mendiratta, special advisor to the secretary general of the UNWTO; Karolin Troubetzkoy, president-elect of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association and executive vice president of St. Lucia’s Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet; Caroline Coyle, vice president of brand strategy for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; and Andrew Houghton, area vice president for Marriott International in the Caribbean.

“Our theme this year is Caribbean Tourism: Growth through Innovation,” said Hugh Riley, CTO’s secretary general.

“The speakers at panel sessions will discuss how they have used innovations in their careers. There will be excellent takeaways for all of us.

“My feeling is that anyone interested in Caribbean solutions and opinions in the industry should be here, especially agents," he said. "Several sessions will give agents the levels of detail they really need, but it is hard to get agents to come to a conference."

The LGBT issue within the Caribbean will be up for discussion in Curacao, considered among the most LGBT-friendly islands.

“I think around the world that the LGBT market still is an issue that is being delegated," Riley said. "It’s an important issue and needs to be discussed."

During a recent speech at the World Routes 2015 forum in Durban, South Africa, Riley urged regional authorities to institute an Open Skies policy and eliminate secondary screening at Caribbean airports. It’s a subject that also could come up during the State of the Industry sessions and workshops.

Caribbean arrivals year-to-date are up over the same time last year. A total of 26.3 million travelers visited the region last year. With expectations of surpassing 2014’s figures, the goal is to break the 30-million visitor mark by the end of 2017, according to Riley.

By Gay Nagle Myers

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