Dr. Jean Holder receives prestigious reward

Dr. Jean Holder was awarded one of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s most prestigious awards at the Caribbean State Ball on June 4, 2004 at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York. Dr. Holder is widely regarded as the organization’s founder and architect.Dr. Holder who has headed the regional tourism body from its inception, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 31st Annual Governments of the Caribbean State Ball at New York’s Waldorf=Astoria on Friday, June 4th, 2004.

“CTO’s Lifetime Achievement Award is given annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to Caribbean tourism and no one is more deserving of this award that Jean Holder, whose lifelong work has been a commitment to the upliftment of the people the Caribbean through his selfless dedication to the tourism industry,” said Hon. Obie Wilchcombe, the Bahamas tourism minister and chairman of CTO.

“Dr. Holder’s compassion, loyalty and enthusiasm for Caribbean tourism is beyond compare and it is with great honour that we pay tribute to our friend, colleague and leader at this year’s Governments of the Caribbean State Ball,” he added.

In 1974, Dr. Holder began his journey with the organization as the first Executive Director and then Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Research and Development Centre (CTRC). 

Prior to that position, Dr. Holder was permanent secretary in the Barbados Public Service and served fourteen years in the Diplomatic Service.


At CTRC, he joined forces with Audrey Palmer Hawks, then Director General of the Caribbean Tourism Association, to create a strong marketing programme to help propel the Caribbean region into the limelight as the leading warm weather destination in the world.  He used the friendships forged in his years in the Diplomatic Service to pave the way for a stronger CTA. He also brokered a partnership with the Caribbean Hotel Association and used the resources of the CTRC to heighten awareness of the region.

In 1989, he took Caribbean tourism one step further when he was instrumental in the merger of the CTRC and the CTA to form a new, and stronger alliance called the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

Through CTO, he launched new travel agent initiatives, which led to the inclusion of travel agents at the Caribbean Tourism Conference each year. Under his leadership, CTO took a scattered and fragmented membership and created a powerful regional force which launched the innovative Caribbean Coalition for Tourism, the first-ever regional marketing campaign in the world, and one that has been since copied by several regional destinations. 

Dr. Holder has received various honors throughout his career including the distinguished member of the Royal Victorian Order, presented by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975, and the International Golden Helm Award in Berlin, Germany in 1985 for his contributions to tourism development.  In 1995, he became the first recipient of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association’s Life Achievement Award.  In 1998, Dr. Holder was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus in Barbados.

Dr. Holder has been active in the cultural life of his native country, Barbados, serving as the first chairman of the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts, which he helped found, chairman of the Barbados Dance Theater Company and a member of the Barbados Symphonia.

Most recently, in April 2004, Dr. Holder initiated a meeting with officials of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) and the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) to pursue cooperative efforts in the best interest of Caribbean tourism.

Mr. Holder will retire from his position as Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization in the months following Caribbean Week 2004.