Hotel boss honoured to be in new pirates to hoteliers book
A new coffee table book celebrating Caribbean tourism, names Coco Reefs Bermuda Resort owner, John Jefferis, as one of the hoteliers that have significantly shaped the industry in this region.
The book, The Caribbean: From Pirates to Hoteliers is being put out by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) to commemorate its 50th anniversary. Mr Jefferis, who also owns Coco Reef Tobago, was President of the CHTA from 1996 to 1998, and was Caribbean Hotelier of the Year in 1990.
I think I am flattered to be included, said Mr Jefferis. There arent a lot of hoteliers in there. Only about ten hoteliers were profiled. Everyone wanted to be in there, to be honest. I felt honoured to be included in it. I think it does provide a good history of the Caribbean region of tourism. It made me think that maybe someone should write a similar book about the history of Bermudas tourism.
Mr Jefferis thought the hoteliers were chosen based on their involvement with the CHTA and also their success in the hotel industry. Other hoteliers in the book include George Myers of the Myers Group of the Bahamas, and Dr The Hon John J Issa who opened Negril Beach in the 1970s in Jamaica.
Mr Jefferis had several accomplishments he was proud of during his time as president of the CHTA. In 1997 he started an investment conference for the hotel industry that brought together bankers, financiers, developers and governments. It was held in Bermuda twice.
It was really good because it brought a lot of interested parties here, said Mr Jefferis. It worked really well. Another event that I started was called the Crystal Palm Award. This was a dinner we had in London. It was a really elegant affair. It was to recognise and give awards to European tour operators and airlines, journalists and others associated with Caribbean tourism. The award was for what they had done to help tourism in the Caribbean. The first airline I wanted to give an award to was British Airways. We should be happy that British Airways provides us with a daily flight.
Mr Jefferis said like other hotel owners he was feeling the bite of the lean economic times, but he was hopeful that the new tourism campaign recently unveiled by the Government would help to perk things up in Bermuda.
Right now there is some specific progress in regards to the advertising and promotions side of things, he said. The key thing is to create awareness. I am expecting that this new advertising campaign will go a long way to providing that. It is very important that when people think of a vacation, Bermuda comes first in their minds.
He thought there had been a decrease in awareness of what Bermuda had to offer as a tourism destination. He said it was also important that all of Bermudas hoteliers work together to not put out conflicting messages about the Island.
When I was president of CHTA, my mantra was that whatever a government may do, without a vibrant and profitable hotel industry, you could never have a successful tourism industry. If you look to the countries that have the most successful hotel industries, they have successful tourism industries. Cancun is very successful. Anguilla is an upmarket island that has certain degree of success.
Mr Jefferis said it was also important to pay close attention to the needs of Bermudas repeat customers because they often become the Islands best ambassadors.
It is critical that people have a good time and ultra critical that they want to come back and stay with us again, he said. It is the best way to get more business through repeat customers talking to their friends. The demographics of their friends will be similar and will be exactly the market that Bermuda wants.
The hotelier was also an adamant supporter of legalising gambling in Bermuda to improve the tourism product.
Gambling is an amenity, he said. It is not going to solve the big picture, but it would be a help. It is like when you have a golf course, tennis courts or spa — they are options for your guests to enjoy. It would certainly create a more attractive investment climate because if there is a gaming component it is easier to obtain financing. A lot of people are not what you would call serious gamblers but they like to go into a casino and spend a few dollars for fun. There is a big difference between those serious gamblers and those who are entertainment gamblers. I think that is a difference that is not often clarified.
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