John Bell’s lasting legacy and indelible footprint on Caribbean tourism was foundational to the region’s rise to the world’s tourism stage and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) guiding hand in making that possible. His achievements will be recognized and applauded as CHTA bestows the association’s Icon of Hospitality Award on John during the opening of the Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Form at the Hyatt Regency Miami on Friday, June 21st.
The Icon of Hospitality Award was established in 2017 and is CHTA’s ultimate recognition created to celebrate the careers and lives of extraordinary leaders whose work in Caribbean hospitality has stood the test of time and left its mark on CHTA and the region. The association’s ultimate recognition honors legendary professionals who have not only achieved phenomenal business success but have also mentored and molded those aiming for excellence in this industry.
In commenting on John, CHTA President Patricia Affonso-Dass states “Like so many others, John’s vision, enthusiasm and knowledge guided and inspired me to want to be part of this dynamic industry. Reflecting upon his many contributions and achievements, I could think of no more fitting person to recognize.”
John was CHTA’s first executive. During his tenure he led the evolution of CHA from a traditional trade association to a developmental agency for the Caribbean region’s tourism private sector. He was also instrumental in the development of programs and initiatives that shaped the CHTA’s membership thru today.
John’s involvement in the Caribbean hotel and tourism industry started prior to CHA and included serving as president of the Trinidad & Tobago Hotel & Tourism Association from 1971-1974; general manager of the Bel Air Hotel in Trinidad from 1967-1974; and assistant manager of the Blue Lagoon Hotel, St. Vincent, 1964-1967. He joined CHA in 1974, under the leadership of Jim Pepperdine, when he was appointed the first executive director for CHA and chairman of the Small Hotels Advisory Council – a considerable asset at that time for the association as membership growth was the number one priority.
John’s many accomplishments during his tenure included the formation of the Caribbean Society of Hotel Association Executives (CSHAE), supervising the creation of CHA Marketplace (now Caribbean Travel Marketplace), “Taste of the Caribbean” culinary event; the Leadership Conference for national hotel association executives; the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference; and CHIC – the annual Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference. In the area of marketing, John was also responsible for the development of the Caribbean Gold Book, a travel agent’s “Bible” for the Caribbean hotel industry, and CHARMS, the regional electronic reservation service. He was also pivotal in the creation of CAST, the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, one of the pioneer environmental organizations in the world and the Caribbean Hotel Foundation.
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association is eternally grateful for the outstanding leadership which John has provided over many years to the association and the development of tourism throughout our region. His life’s work on behalf of our industry parallels the ascendance of the Caribbean to the world stage as one of the preeminent and most desired tourist destinations.
John will join company with the first distinguished recipient, Heinz Simonitsch, C.D. We invite you to join us as we honor John and his contributions to CHTA and the Caribbean.