New JHTA president proposes COVID-19 ambassadors in local communities
Working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW), new Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) president, Clifton Reader, is proposing his organisation acts as COVID-19 ambassadors in local communities.
Reader, managing director of Moon Palace Jamaica, was selected unopposed on Saturday during the JHTA 59th annual general meeting at The Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston.
He succeeded Round Hill’s Omar Robinson, who served in the capacity for the last four years.
“We will organise members of our teams who live in communities to share their knowledge. The training departments in our hotels will have virtual workshops organised with the assistance of the churches and schools, to share the protocols and strategies that are serving us well in the tourist industry,” Reader stated in his acceptance speech.
He later told The Gleaner that the idea was to start with about 10 communities in the Ocho Rios area, as part of a pilot programme, engaging over 50 employees from different properties.
The brainchild of Sandals Resorts International’s Brian Roper, Reader said it was he who suggested it, “and we are running with it”.
Reader argues that the community spread of the coronavirus was the greatest risk at this time, and the virus was at top of mind for his new team, which includes Deja Resorts’ Robin Russell, Sunflower Villas’ Vana Taylor, Altamont Court’s Christopher Jarrett, and RIU Resorts’ Frank Sondern.
“We can all be proud of the response of our sector in the implementation of protocols and sanitisation regimes that have served to protect our staff, our guests and, by extension, our communities,” he told the gathering.
He added that he felt there could be even greater direct service to the various communities staff are from, by partnering with the MOHW “to lend the expertise of their trained employees in helping to sensitise communities and craft a recovery road map that will benefit all”.
While COVID-19 recovery planning focuses now on the logistics of sanitisation, safe distancing and mask wearing, Reader said there was a need to also look ahead to how the country can increase business survival rates.
Recognised as ‘Hotelier of the Year’ in 2011, Reader’s career spans over three decades at various local and international hotels, including stints as general manager of Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort and Spa, Beaches Negril Resort Spa, and Beaches Sandy Bay. He lauded Robinson for his outstanding contribution during his tenure.
Admitting this new mantle would not be an easy task, given the ever-emerging challenges – the continued impact of COVID-19 among them, Reader said in the coming weeks he and the JHTA councillors will be fine-tuning plans for strengthening and growth.