President's Message - 2009: Challenges and Opportunities

Never before has the adage "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" had more relevance than today. Our industry has faced one of its most challenging years and our very survivability and ultimate return to profitability rests with how well we manage today's crisis while concurrently planning for our future.

As the depth of the recession became apparent early this year, the Bahamas Hotel Association reassessed its goals, priorities and mode of operation. To weather the storm, we realized that we needed to be positive, focused, flexible, organized and proactive. In the accompanying Annual Activity Report, you will see an organization which has adhered to those essential characteristics - which are bound by a ‘toughness' and resolve to not only see us through this storm but to come out of it much stronger and more adaptable. Please take a few minutes to review the report.

You will see that we've been driven by the core strategies embedded in our strategic plan - with a commitment to forging alliances and partnerships being core to our principles, in particular with our sister organization Promotion Boards, BHEA and the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation.

Our 2009 priorities focused on a range of activities aimed at addressing airlift challenges, helping to reduce the cost of doing business, seeking revisions to legislation and regulations to improve our business climate, working to ensure the safety of our visitors, strengthening the capacity of small hotels, supporting infrastructure and long-term improvements, and building a better workforce.

At the same time, we have begun to build a new foundation. Recognizing that for 50 years the private sector and the Ministry of Tourism have been operating on an organizational model suited to past needs, we question whether that model is relevant to meeting our future needs. We've begun a self-assessment and in 2010 will begin in earnest to determine how best we might reorganize BHA and our industry's collective and collaborative approach to the future.

While we aspire to meet all of our member needs, the practicality is that we must manage the affairs of your organization, the Bahamas Hotel Association, based on priorities defined by our members, and the realities of financial and volunteer resource limitations.

We have been highly appreciative of the support which many members have provided to our various activities throughout the past year. I believe we've made good strides in bad times. But I also believe that we've not realized our potential. To do so will require a stronger and more collective resolve by all of us and a willingness to be a far more positive and proactive force for change. I believe all of that is within our grasp.

Thank you to all of our members for your support in 2009, as well as to our sister organizations, our dedicated staff and the team at the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation who have remained diligent in these difficult times. I'm bullish on our future and confident that our industry's best days are ahead of us.

Best wishes for 2010.
Robert D.L. Sands