The Board of Directors of the International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA) has announced the election of John Bell, former Director General and CEO of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA), to the global association’s Presidency. The appointment by acclamation took place at the IH&RA General Assembly during the organisation’s 40th Annual Congress, held in Cairo, Egypt. “John Bell is a hospitality industry executive of international renown who put the Caribbean hospitality industry on the map while at the leadership of CHA,” stated IH&RA Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Alain-Philippe Feutré. “His proven expertise will greatly benefit IH&RA.”
As IH&RA President, John Bell will serve at the helm of the only global trade association representing the hospitality industry worldwide. IH&RA members include national hotel and restaurant associations in some 100 countries throughout the world and international and national hotel and restaurant chains representing some 50 brands. His term is for one year. “John Bell’s appointment is a recognition of his distinguished career in the Caribbean hospitality industry and underscores the position of leadership that the Caribbean region enjoys internationally in the area of travel and tourism,” added CHA President Simón B. Suárez. “CHA looks forward to becoming increasingly more engaged with our partners worldwide to address common issues.”“The optimism expressed by speakers at this important Congress augurs well for the hospitality industry over the next 12 months,” said John Bell at the Congress’ closing American Express Gala Dinner. “Prospects for my region of the world, the Caribbean, are looking especially good, but other regions of the world are also experiencing a recovery, in line with the improved economic outlook. “As a result,” added Bell, “by the time we all next meet in Istanbul, I hope to be able to report on a genuine recovery…And I look forward to us all pulling together to make up for some of the lost ground over the past couple of years.” The next Annual IH&RA Congress will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, in late October 2004.As the former CEO of the Caribbean Hotel Association for 28 years, Bell successfully managed and led an association that represents 35 countries of the Caribbean region - a microcosm of the diverse international membership of IH&RA. Bell first joined CHA in 1974 when he was appointed the first executive director for CHA and chairman of the Small Hotels Advisory Council. Over the course of the next three decades, he led the evolution of CHA from a traditional trade association to a developmental agency for the Caribbean region’s tourism private sector. He has a proven track record as both the leader of CHA and a long-standing IH&RA Board member for aggressively defending the interests of the hospitality industry before international policy making agencies. “I am confident that as IH&RA President, John will be a catalyst in our efforts to defend and protect the interests of the hotel and restaurant industry worldwide, especially during the current challenging times,” concluded Feutré.John Bell’s Presidency marks the first time in the 55-year history of IH&RA that a chief executive of a national association will serve as President of the organisation. In the past, and according to the former IH&RA statutes revised in 2002, only an executive of an international or national hotel or restaurant chain could serve as the IH&RA President. John Bell’s Presidency will usher in a new era where national association chief executives will steer the focus of IH&RA. This is crucial because these national association chief executives (known as IH&RA “NACE” members) represent international and national hotel and restaurant chains, as well as independent hoteliers and other members of the hospitality sector in their respective countries. Through these NACE members, IH&RA truly reaches the grass roots of the hospitality sector worldwide.