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.