Welcome Remarks; Developing Viable and Sustainable Tourism Products: The Singapore Model


Hugh Riley

Release Date

Monday, July 13, 2015


"What a tremendous accolade it would be to be known for the Caribbean model."

This from the secretary general of the CTO, Hugh Riley, at the opening this morning of the CTO-organized four-day workshop seeking to stimulate new ideas and fresh thinking aimed at re-inventing the Caribbean tourism product.

Dubbed, Developing Viable and Sustainable Tourism Products: The Singapore Model, the workshop is being facilitated by Christopher Khoo, the senior tourism consultant at International Business Dynamics (iBusiness), a training and consultancy firm that specializes in trade and economic development, investment promotion and tourism development.

Using Singapore’s model for tourism product development as the case study, the workshop focuses on key principles, including the tourism experience and the role of planning in tourism; fundamentals and principles of tourism product development and the tourism destination and its products.

Below are the secretary general’s remarks:

Donna Banks, Chairman, Anguilla Tourism Board, Emil Lee, President; Caribbean Hotel & Tourism
Association; Candis Niles, Director of Tourism, Anguilla; Dr. Kerry Hall, Chief Executive Officer, Barbados Tourism Product Authority; Geoffrey Roach, Chief Executive Officer, Barbados Cruise Terminal Inc.; Sue Springer, Chief Executive Officer, Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association;

Noorani Azeez, Chief Executive Officer, Saint Lucia Hotel & Tourism Association; Dianille Taylor-Williams, Permanent Secretary, St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism; Zulaika Mook, Director, Economic Development & Innovation, Ministry of Economic Development, Curacao; May Hinds, Allied Board Member of the CTO; Dr. Lorraine Nicholas, Tourism Program Officer, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States; Officials of our CTO member-countries; Visitors from throughout the Caribbean and overseas; Private sector Partners and Friends; Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you, Bonita Morgan and your team, Sharon Banfield and Marvelle Sealy for putting this together.

Thank you to our partners, especially the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, International Business Dynamics, and of course Christopher Koo for helping us to make this all possible.

And thank you, public and private sector, local, regional and international; and the seventeen CTO member countries represented here from around the Caribbean. Thank you participants, for making this all worthwhile.

Let me begin by asking the question that is on the minds of everyone in any room with a varied audience like this: Who are you, and why are you here?

Most people will simply give their name and say something general like I’m here to learn something new; or I’m here to network; I’m here to contribute to the discussion; I’m here because my boss sent me. All valid reasons.

But when I look around this room at who is really here, my guess is that most of us are here because we want to make a difference. We want to change something about the way we do business; and we are attracted by the fact that someone in our business has made a difference which we can learn
from. A destination that is really a competitor of the Caribbean – make no mistake about it, Singapore is a formidable competitor – has managed to earn the word "model" after its name.

What a tremendous accolade it would be to be known for the Caribbean model, or the Barbados model, the Villa de Rose model, The CHTA model. We’re here to probe the depths of Christopher Khoo’s knowledge of the Singapore Model, a symbol of international achievement. More than anything else, Singapore is a model of fortitude and determination to succeed. That island state receives
over 15 million visitors a year.

At 700 square kilometers, Singapore is larger than Barbados, but smaller than Dominica. Jamaica is approximately fifteen times larger than Singapore in terms of land mass. Folks, Singapore is a model well worth studying.

Of course that is not to say we don’t recognize great examples right here among us in the Caribbean; we elevate those all the time; that is our responsibility; that is what we sell!

But because tourism is perhaps the most globally competitive enterpise in modern day commerce, we owe it to our region and to ourselves to see who is doing it successfully, and what aspects of any winning formula we can adapt to our circumstances. That’s how the best ideas evolve.

So, who are WE and why are WE here? We, the CTO, are the Caribbean’s tourism development
entity with the responsibility for Leading Sustainable Tourism. We have pledged to work with our partners, chief among them the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association whose President Emile Lee from Sint Maarten is here today, to enhance the Caribbean’s desirability, year-round success and overall competitiveness.

It’s a tall order; and we can only accomplish it with the help of people who intend to make a difference. So we’re glad you’re here to collect whatever you need to make a difference in your business – a difference which will itself contribute to the overall success of the effort to make the Caribbean the world’s most desirable, year-round, warm weather destination.

Often I’m accused of getting too evangelistic about the things I feel strongly about and sometimes that frightens event organizers. But the CTO is the organizer of this particular event and so we’ve made a conscious decision to allow everyone to be as evangeilistic as they want to be.

Be passionate; give energy to your opinions! That is the oxygen you sometimes need to make things happen. Developing Viable and Sustainable Tourism Products will take us on an interesting journey together, over the next few days. When the workshop is over, there will be a half-day Forum at this hotel, starting at 9:00am on Friday morning.

Buckle up. Get ready for an exciting ride!

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