With over 300 delegates expected to converge here at the Hilton Barbados for the October 8-11 Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) Leadership Strategy Conference, the island is viewing this as critical to its tourism industry.

A statement from the Ministry of Tourism said: "Barbados values the exchange expected at this conference, which brings together not only the Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism from all 34 member states of the CTO, but also key tourism officials, practitioners, partners and stakeholders from across the world."

The island’s Tourism Minister Richard Sealy said: "This CTO Leadership Strategy Conference, as its name implies seeks to bring together the leadership of tourism and tourism-related interests to develop strategies for the way forward. There is no denying that our tourism destinations have been hit, and hit very hard, by the world economic crisis.

"But we are equal to the task of surviving it and re-ordering our priorities in such a way that we take full advantage of the economic recovery, as it emerges and strengthens."

He added that he was delighted that Conference Keynote Speaker, Mr. William "Willie" Walsh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of British Airways (BA) had agreed to attend. "British Airways is an airline with which Barbados has had a long and fruitful association and the Government welcomes Mr. Walsh to Barbados on his first strategic visit to the Caribbean," Mr. Sealy stated.

The CEO of BA will speak on the "Future of Long-Haul Travel and the Importance of Airline/Destination Partnerships" at the opening of the conference this Sunday, October 10, at Hilton Barbados.

Mr. Walsh is also scheduled to attend a number of engagements during his three-day stay on the island. One highlight of his visit will be a fund-raising luncheon at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, where he will address regional leaders, industry representatives, academics, university students and conference delegates. All proceeds will benefit the CTO Foundation that provides scholarships to the region.??

The meeting which is being organised in collaboration with the Government of Barbados, is designed to provide invaluable information critical to planning strategies and is intended to be a forum for open and frank discussions.

While the prime focus of the high-level consultation is expected to be on issues affecting the aviation industry, other pertinent matters such as Destination Branding, Targeting China’s New Millionaires and Upscale Travelers and the Security of Caribbean Borders; will also come under the microscope.

The October consultation will also include business meetings, one of which will see the CTO, a Barbados-based development and sustainable tourism organisation, electing its new chairman. Joyann Gill (JG) – jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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