Vincent Vanderpool: A Man of His Word

09 January 2006 12:00am
godking

New winds are blowing through the Caribbean. A fresh breeze is dusting off institutions. It seems as if the Caribbean vision of Europe –especially toward Spain- were changing. An old saying goes that actions speak louder than words, and that´s exactly what Spanish hoteliers have done. They have shown that they have to be counted in, that they´re bold and brisk, that their approval ratings are soaring. It took all that for some Caribbean nations to realize that there are other companies they hadn´t heard of, Spanish companies willing to invest heavily in the region.

These entrepreneurs hail from a country in Europe where English is not spoken, who are not Americans, and speak the tongue of Christopher Columbus. They are businesspeople who have lots of things in common with the Caribbean people: most of them are islanders, from the lovely Balearic Islands or the lucky Canary Islands. And some of them even emerged from the Sea of Castile.

They can build, manage, profit and vie with the world´s strongest and mightiest competitors. They can also speak English and don´t believe our language is the only one on the face of the earth. They´re open-minded, give the best service money can buy and speak the tongue their customers want to hear. They never try to ram anything down other people´s throats. They´re as flexible as reeds and remain steady and faithful every step of the way. They are also trained to weather raging storms without enduring severe damages.

Things are definitely shifting for the better in the Caribbean. New officials at the helm of a number of institutions are providing new visions and insights, applying fresh policies in a bid to make unyielding, overpowering and coarse attitudes cave in, attitudes that used to bar memberships from looking to the future. London is not the capital of the world, nor the capital of the Caribbean. Tolerant people eager to work for a brighter future should rule those institutions. These leaders must show their open-mindedness and never turn a blind eye.

We can only harvest the fruits of the seeds we were able to sow, and for years there´s only been a small patch of land to grow. But the boundaries of this rich soil have now spilled over way beyond English-speaking interests, the same interests that used to snare funds and resources in the past that were supposed to be shared equally among all.

Today, however, there are men who make good on their promises, newcomers with extensive knowledge and expertise in the industry, young talented officials who are trying to mend fences and have managed to create teamwork among the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) and the private sector. These officials see the Caribbean mainland nations are allies rather than foes. We must support them and put our smart money on them.

We hope the Great Caribbean will eventually open up, that the leaders of those small and beautiful countries will understand the opening to new markets and learn to stand tall above the interests of the private sector –that usually watches out for the number one in the short run. They ought to seek new markets, take a closer look at the future with a new goal in mind. Ladies and gentlemen, don´t forget Spain is out there, not only as an outbound market, but also as a heavy investor and technology provider. Let´s find in FITUR, one of the world´s major travel fairs, the necessary meeting ground, the right place to show Spaniards the beauty of your nations and give them a chance to visit them.

And don´t forget to prepare your agendas, to get in touch with as many Spanish buyers as you possibly can, to cash in on this magnificent tradeshow to search for new destinations. Think of the countless professionals from across the Americas that will huddle in Madrid for the FITUR fair. They are potential customers of yours. Sow the seeds of commerce and keep up the good work. Your efforts will pay off at the end of the day.

The Reed Group has picked the Spanish city of Barcelona as the venue for what is probably the most important MICE event in both Europe and the world. And it did it for good reasons: the company has anticipated massive turnouts for upcoming editions. EIBTM attendees and planners have realized by now the importance of communicating in the language of the host country, and so for a second year in a row Spanish was the language of choice.

Nonetheless, many Caribbean countries didn´t attend the Barcelona MICE tradeshow, so we´re extending an invitation to all Caribbean states to come to EIBTM 2006, to look for new business opportunities in Barcelona instead of waiting patiently for those chances to come knocking on the door. We encourage them to continue working together with institutions, to demand information from them, as well as support for their efforts to tap into these new markets. Together we can makes all dreams come true for the GRAND CARIBBEAN.

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