BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (11 Sept. 2018) – The opening day of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) centres on the “Recreate” theme with discussions focused on innovation, business development and building better. The conversation will transcend physical infrastructure to examine an entire immersive experience that is driven by technology among other factors.
“The Caribbean must examine and utilize new technologies designed to upgrade and enhance the region’s tourism product in order to be competitive on a global scale,” said Sylma Brown, the head of the CTO’s New York office, which oversees the conference. “The first day of the State of the Tourism Industry Conference will challenge previous notions with innovative ideas for redesigning business operations and infrastructure to optimize the guest experience within each destination, resort, guesthouse, attraction and cultural event,” she added.
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Scheduled for 2-5 Oct. 2018 at Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas, general SOTIC sessions start on 3 Oct. and will be anchored by Puerto Rico-born Santana Rodriguez, television producer and former news personality at Crown City News in Pasadena who also served as entertainment host and morning news reporter at KLEO Television in Hollywood, California.
The first general session, “Building Better,” aims to guide the development of regional infrastructure and product evolution while influencing the enhancement of the Caribbean’s unmistakably infectious brand. There will be a sharp focus on the critical priority areas that are necessary to build better, including financing, design and execution, and best practices that take into consideration the practical realities of physical infrastructure.
Panellists include Hugh Riley, the CTO’s secretary general; Tom Hook, the North American director of planning and landscape at B+H Architects; General Russel Honore, a retired U.S. military officer who led the department of defense response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana; and Jena Tesse Fox, a writer and editor for Questex Media’s Hotel Management and Hotel Design magazines.
Moderated by Dr. Deborah Hickling-Gordon, Principal Consultant, Ink and Vision, Ltd., the second general session, “Commoditization Without Exploitation,” will examine the critical factors which catalyze the misuse and overuse of the Caribbean’s intrinsic resources for tourist consumption, as well as explore feasible opportunities to maximize the Caribbean’s marine, cultural and heritage treasures to enhance the tourism product without exploiting the region’s inherent wealth. The panel will feature Gregory Bethel, senior economist at the department of marine resources of The Bahamas; Dr. Marcia Burrowes, lecturer in cultural studies at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus; and Senator Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson, president of the Caribbean Congress of Labour.
A general session on “Modernizing the Experience: Using Technology to Enhance the Visitor Experience” will analyze how rapidly developing technology is forcing every sector of the industry to shift their approach and define their own experience utilizing mobile technologies and virtual reality to set themselves apart. From airports becoming more memorable and enjoyable with facilities to shop without checkout systems to hotels adopting customer-centric models, this session will feature some of the best examples of how governments and brands are using technology to move beyond the ordinary.
Travel industry veteran Noreen Henry, who has over 25 years leveraging innovative technologies and who served as chief executive officer of WayBlazer, an artificial intelligence travel technology start-up, is a speaker on the panel. She will be joined by Kristie Powell, a former senior technical advisor at Google and the co-founder and chief executive Founder, Coral, a software development startup transforming the B2B market in the Caribbean; and Ed Limon, a Toronto-based filmmaker, producer and virtual reality expert.
Caribbean tourism practitioners, policymakers, travel professionals and strategic partners from the public and private sectors throughout the region and internationally participate each year in SOTIC, organized this year by the CTO in collaboration with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. The conference will be preceded by business meetings on 1 – 2 Oct.