On the heels of her appointment as the president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), veteran hotelier Nicola Madden-Greig has her eyes set on building a stronger regional tourism product.
“As we move forward we are focused on how we continue to build and develop brand Caribbean. There is a marketing component which is being discussed in the initial stages on how we will continue to progress as a region in terms of marketing the Caribbean brand,” she told the Jamaica Observer in an interview this week.
Madden-Greig, who was appointed to the post during the association’s recent annual general meeting, takes over from Pablo Torres who served for one of his two-year term before resigning to take up broader regional responsibilities. The incoming president, who is currently the group director of marketing and sales for the Courtleigh Hospitality Group, brings two decades of tourism industry experience to her new role and is expected to lead a three-year term.
She cited technology as a key area of focus to be given priority attention during her tenure as she urged players in the sector to reimagine destinations as they utilise the latest tools comprising artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented realities, and smart tourism options, among others, to deliver new customer experiences.
“We have just designated a technology task force; we will be announcing the chair and members of that task force shortly. With industry 5.0 and all the elements that technology has to offer tourism, we will be seeking to provide our membership with educational and training opportunities as well as access, with increased focused on our small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” she told the Caribbean Business Report.
“We have seen how the e-commerce space has helped so many SMEs and we want to continue to build on those efforts and provide access to our members through those channels,” she added.
The CHTA, which represents tourism interest for its member tourist associations, shares in the regional vision of making the Caribbean a desirable destination. Data released by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) recently showed Caribbean tourism outperforming the rest of the world during the first half of this year. According to the report, international tourist arrivals to the Caribbean during that period reached 6.6 million following a strong second-quarter rise in arrivals, easing of some travel restrictions and increased airlifts.
Madden-Greig, who further spoke of her plans for the region, said that while it was still early days, the entity will also be doubling down on a more active diversification of the tourism product inclusive of nature tourism, adventure travels and the use of gastronomy, history and culture as it looks to build out a more vibrant product. A more vibrant and properly structured organisation, she believes, is critical to achieving the objectives set out and to become the voice for Caribbean tourism.
She said that with much of the focus now placed on wholesale recovery of the sector following significant fallouts from the novel coronavirus pandemic, the aim is to forge better collaborations and establish new partnerships while strengthening existing ones.
“We want to see the full recovery to where we were in 2019. We also want to look more at regional tourism and how we can travel between destinations to promote our own space as we enjoy the beauty, culture, nature and excitement of the Caribbean,” she said in sharing an outlook.