By YOURI KEMP
A Bahamian tourism executive will be honoured at the Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEX) Leadership Awards 2019 for more than 35 years of service to the industry.
Frank Comito, the former Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association’s (BHTA) executive vice-president, will be rewarded for his efforts to spur economic development, organisation management, government affairs, project management, workforce development, research and business and investor support in the tourism industry.
Mr Comito, who is currently the the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) chief executive and director-general, told Tribune Business of the award: “It is a reflection that we at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) have made a concentrated effort to play a more active role in tourism. The work we are doing at the CHTA is being recognised through the award.
“I think the whole profile of Caribbean tourism and its incredible offerings has the potential to be beefed-up to be continually profiled in a positive light. The CHTA has been working a great deal to raise that profile for the people of the Caribbean. We like to think of our organisation as a leader in that regard.”
Mr Comito added: “Despite the challenges facing The Bahamas it has mobilised resources to rebuild Abaco and revitalise Grand Bahama. There is a tremendous opportunity to do things right. The Bahamas does not have far to go in order to see the lessons learned after major storms. Look at the incredible job that Dominica has done post-hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“They have got all hands on deck and have a lot of multilaterals and international agencies and non-governmental organisations working. They are working in a sustainable way and looking to the long term, using it as a national economic rebuilding and restructuring opportunity. Hopefully, stakeholders will seize that opportunity.”
When it came to The Bahamas’ competitiveness against low-cost regional rivals, Mr Comito said: “The Bahamas is different than that of the Dominican Republic. Both destinations are doing a great job overall. The Bahamas, prior to Hurricane Dorian, was on track for having its best year ever in terms of visitor arrivals and average daily room rates. It was on a track to lead the entire Caribbean prior to Dorian. In terms of tourism indicators, the rest of The Bahamas seems to be rebounding faster than we anticipated.
“The Ministry of Tourism and the entire industry is marketing the destination, letting the world know what the real story is in The Bahamas. I think Thanksgiving and Christmas should be fine for this period. The real hard work is getting folks back beyond those peak periods between the month of November up until the end of Spring Break 2020.
“The real hard work is going to be afterwards. We are so pleased that the CHTA is going to bring the Caribbean Marketplace 2020 to The Bahamas in January. We planned for it to be at Baha Mar. We have not veered from that as it takes on added significance now considering what it means to The Bahamas at this point in time,” he continued.
“We are looking at working on long-term recovery for the business and to shine greater light on the destination in the Bahamas at Marketplace 2020.”
Mr Comito has held executive positions with the Nassau Tourism and Development Board; the National Alliance of Business in Washington DC; and earlier with the St Croix and St Thomas-St John Chambers of Commerce.
Regionally, he has held posts as president of the Caribbean Society of Hotel Association Executives; been a long-serving member of CHTA’s Board of Directors, and has extensive experience in crisis planning and recovery. Mr Comito was also deputy chairman of the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), where he helped guide a $410m investment in upgrading the airport.