The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) welcomed its new secretary-general and CEO, Dona Regis-Prosper, and outlined its plans during a news briefing on Thursday.
CTO officials expressed a renewed sense of purpose and direction for the organization with Regis-Prosper's onboarding, which began on Sept. 1, and a recent restructuring of the role. The position had been vacant for several years, with CTO's director of finance, Neil Walters, serving as acting secretary-general since 2019.
“The role of the CTO secretary-general serves as the driving force behind our mission to promote, facilitate, and enhance sustainable tourism development in the Caribbean,” said Kenneth Bryan, CTO’s chairman of the council of ministers and commissioners, and minister of tourism for the Cayman Islands. “Dona brings a wealth of experience, a passion for tourism and a commitment to the Caribbean that aligns perfectly with our organization's vision.”
Bryan also noted that the secretary-general helps coordinate disaster preparedness and relief responses among the 25 member countries’ tourism sectors, especially during hurricane season.
Regis-Prosper, a St. Lucia native, described herself as a Caribbean citizen, having lived on several different islands in the region. She brings 22 years of experience in the tourism industry and is the first woman to serve as CTO’s secretary general and CEO.
“As we look forward, I am committed to working closely with all our members to grow this vital tourism industry, recognizing the industry continues to grapple with this post pandemic era,” Regis-Prosper said. “In the coming months I intend to learn and be informed as much as possible about the challenges faced by each member and to develop workable solutions that will be beneficial nationally and regionally.”
She added that she believes the CTO plays a vital role in unifying the Caribbean as a region by facilitating discussions among members. Bryan agreed, noting that through CTO, countries seek to help each other by sharing information about marketing strategies, private sector partnerships, and beyond.
“We are stronger together, and that’s what the CTO is about,” Bryan said. “We don’t compete against each other; we work together, and we believe there is enough market share out there for us not to need to compete. When one member grows, all of us grow together.”
Rosa Harris, chairman of CTO’s board of director, offered a list of focuses for the organization, including adding benefits and value to countries’ CTO membership, working collaboratively with the private sector to improve regional air connectivity and manage labor issues, and promoting the Caribbean as a multi-island tourism destination.
“As we enter a new and exciting phase for the CTO, the board of directors looks forward to working with Dona on a robust strategy, showcasing our beautiful region to the world, and increasing benefits for our member countries and the wider region,” Harris said.
While recognizing the need to work toward improved inter-Caribbean air connectivity and airport infrastructure, Bryan touted recent wins: the launch of direct flights from Cayman Islands to Barbados, where CTO is headquartered, and the return of LIAT flights between Antigua and Barbuda.
“We are supposed to be getting some updates soon at the next meeting of one of the agencies that will be facilitating solutions for connectivity,” he added.
Bryan also highlighted upcoming CTO events: the State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) in Turks & Caicos from Oct. 9 to 13 and the 10th Tourism HR Conference in Nevis from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1. More information can be found at OneCaribbean.org.