INCAPH Conference held for first time in Trinidad
October 21, 2016: Tourism practitioners gathered on October 20 & 21, 2016 at the University Inn and Conference Centre, UWI St. Augustine Campus for the Fourth Encounter of the Inter-American and Caribbean Network of Small Hotels (INCAPH). This is the first time that an INCAPH Encounter was held in a Caribbean nation. The theme of this year’s Encounter was Sustainability, Marketing and Competitiveness of Small Hotels and saw participation from Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, St Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Honduras, Ecuador, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Columbia, Panama, Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago.
Special guest of honour at the conference was the Honourable Dominic Fedee, Minister of Tourism, Information and Broadcasting in St. Lucia, who emphasised that “the growth of small hotels is essential to the success of the Caribbean tourism. With improved airport capacity and infrastructure, expanding airline networks with a focus on low-cost carriers, and a changing consumer dynamic, there is huge demand for affordable options. Operators across the region are now looking at how they can do their part to attract new market segments, including younger families, millennials travelling in smaller budgets and younger travellers in general.”
Noting that small and medium hotels represent 90 percent of the accommodation establishments in the Caribbean region and employ nearly 70 percent of the workforce in the hotel sector, Mrs. Vidiah Ramkhelawan, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism explained that “small hotels brings significant value in terms of a personalised and authentic experience to the tourism industry”.
Through the Small Tourism Enterprise Project (STEP), the TDC, the implementation agency of the Ministry of Tourism, work with small accommodation property owners in Trinidad and Tobago with less than 75 rooms to enhance their competitiveness, profitability and sustainability. Training programs, designed to build capacity and foster innovation and efficiency, are also undertaken for this particular accommodation niche.
Also bringing greetings was Richard Campbell of the Organisation of American States (OAS) who stressed the importance of small hotels for the tourism sector. He called on participants to take advantage of the sector’s potential, noting that "tourism trends show that our international guests want to learn about the places they visit, and small hotels are best positioned for this purpose”.
The Inter-American and Caribbean Network of Small Hotels (INCAPH) was developed with support from the Organisation of American States (OAS) and is a common voice for the development of small accommodation properties and a potential for solid partnership with individual Governments in the Caribbean region and with international stakeholders and investors.
Delegates examined issues such as mega trends and developments in the hospitality and leisure industry, social media trends and tools, sustainable tourism through agriculture, and the benefits of being a “green hotel” during the conference. They were also introduced to developmental projects and resources available through the Organisation of American States (OAS), Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST).
Also speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the Fourth Encounter of the INCAPH Small Hotels were:
- Ms. Belinda Charles, Business Enhancement and Facilitation Specialist at the TDC
- Mrs. Liesel Lashley, President of the Small Tourism Accommodation Owners of Trinidad and Tobago (STAOTT)
- Mrs. Denise Aleong-Thomas, Vice President of Inter-American & Caribbean Network of Small Hotels
- Mrs. Sherma Mac Dougall Williams, Product Development Manager of the Division of Tourism and Transport, Tobago House of Assembly
The next INCAPH Encounter in 2017 will take place in South America.
For further information please contact:
The Corporate Communications Unit
Ministry of Tourism
868- 624-1403 ext. 248