The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) recently held it’s 62nd annual general meeting (AGM), followed by its traditional annual Christmas luncheon on Thursday, December 11 2014, at Atlantis resort.
President of the BHTA Stuart Bowe reviewed the year’s achievements and events and spoke of “changes and challenges” forecasted for 2015.
Noteworthy achievements in 2014 were the BHTA’s advocacy efforts, primarily focused on ensuring industry stakeholders had a voice in influencing the formation of the value-added tax (VAT) legislation. The BHTA also worked in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Tourism to create and launch a formative VAT training and readiness program specifically geared to prepare tourism-related businesses for the imminent implementation of VAT. Twelve “training sessions” were held throughout the nation between October and November 2014, reaching almost 500 participants.
The AGM also highlighted the BHTA’s numerous, impactful workforce development initiatives and partner programs with the Ministry of Education and The College of The Bahamas’ Culinary Hospitality Management Institute (CHMI).
Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe participated as the keynote speaker. The minister, in his speech, spoke of the need for service to be one of the key pillars of strength for our tourism product.
During the AGM, the BHTA held its election of officers and directors for the 2015-2016 term. Bowe was re-elected for another term. Also elected were Carlton Russell, vice president of hotel operations, The Cove and Reef, Atlantis; Earle Bethel, general manager of Comfort Suites, who will serve as treasurer, and Robert, “Sandy” Sands of Baha Mar, who will continue as immediate past president.
Hotel operator representatives proposed and ratified to serve on the BHTA’s executive committee were Rui Domingues, general manager of the British Colonial Hilton, as vice president (VP) of Nassau and Paradise Island; Magnus Alnebeck, general manager of Pelican Bay, Grand Bahama, as VP for Grand Bahama; Dean Spychalla, managing director of Valentines Resort and Marina, Harbour Island, as VP for Family Islands, and Vernice Walkine, president and CEO of Nassau Airport Development Authority, as VP representing allied members. Nina Maynard of the Corner Hotel, Nassau was appointed as small hotels chairperson and Beverly Saunders, president and managing director of The Learning Connection, was appointed as workforce development chairperson.
Immediately following the meeting was the traditional Christmas luncheon, where 150 tourism industry stakeholders from the public and private sector gathered to enjoy the festivities and to hear the keynote speaker, Perry G Christie, prime minister of The Bahamas. The prime minister spoke of the continued need for public/private sector collaboration to market The Bahamas as a premier destination, and the government’s commitment to promote The Bahamas’ unique and distinct culture through dynamic events and festivals held throughout the year. The prime minister challenged hoteliers to recognize that the key ingredient to success in the Bahamian tourism industry lies in the people of The Bahamas.
The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association thanks its members, public and private sector partners, sponsors, past officers and directors, committee members, volunteers and team members for their support throughout 2014.
The Nassau Guardian
Published: Dec 19, 2014