by Cletus Felix
Puerto Rico, Monday, June 17, 2002 - Former president
of the Caribbean Hotel Association, Ralph Taylor, has vacated the CHA's top
position urging Caribbean Tourism Industry partners to do whatever is necessary
to maintain the partnership that has been forged with Caribbean governments
following the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, which left
Caribbean countries reeling from the effects of the resultant decline in travel
Ralph Taylor addressed the official opening of the Caribbean Hotel Industry
Conference in Puerto Rico for the last time as president of the CHA. Mr.
Taylor underscored the need for CARICOM governments to maintain the links that
have been established with regional tourism leaders. He also pointed out a
number of areas in which the region's tourism industry is in dire need of public
and private sector collaboration. Mr. Taylor expressed concern that despite the
fact that tourism continues to be one of the leading industries in the
Caribbean, regional entrepreneurs continue to find limited incentive to invest
in the tourism sector.
He said "The reason for this reluctance to get into what can be a very good
thing is quite straight forward: return on investment. The issue starts with
the cost of capital. Interest rates are simply too crippling for hotel
operators in the Caribbean. This is an unfortunate reality of the banking
system in the region. "
Mr. Taylor said in light of the fact that tourism is such an important
industry to Caribbean economies, with hotels being the heart of the tourism
industry. "The development of new financial services products customised to the
needs of indigenous hotel developers, should be an imperative for the
governments of the region."
Mr. Taylor was succeeded at the helm of the Caribbean Hotel Association by Mr.
Simon Suarez, a hotelier from the Dominican Republic. He is the CHA's first
president from the Spanish speaking Caribbean.