Enrique De Marchena Kaluche, from the Dominican Republic, has become President of the Caribbean Hotel Association for 2008-2010. He succeeds on a platform that includes goals to raise the level of awareness and respect for the hospitality and tourism industry by collaborating with governments and the people of the Caribbean, focusing on human resource development of Caribbean nationals working in both hospitality and tourism, improving the marketing of the hotel industry throughout the region, dealing with the impact of airline service cutbacks, integrating tourism into the economic chain on the islands, and reinvigorating both the Board of Directors and the national hotel association executives across the Caribbean.
De Marchena took the stage and the presidency of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) praising the past presidents of CHA vowing “to listen to my constituents and get the best advice possible from the past presidents based on their own experience, their knowledge of the history of this association and the tourism sector in the Caribbean.”
De Marchena is creating a Council of Past Presidents of CHA to meet twice a year “to assist me to make this association stronger, because together we can.”
He acknowledges that “the 21st Century brings new challenges for the world, the Caribbean, and tourism in the Caribbean. “I have always addressed challenges as opportunities, De Marchena said, adding: “The first challenge will be the integration of the private sector for the success of the tourism industry in the Caribbean. At CHA we are going to address this issue and thereby ensure that CHA maintains its position as the leading private sector tourism institution in the Caribbean.”
His goal is to continue to set the tone, to raise the awareness level and critical role that the entire hotel and tourism industry contributes to the economy of the Caribbean and also tourism’s role as the major provider of jobs and the alleviation of poverty.
De Marchena said: “This is the reason WHY we are in Washington D.C. today. I do find it encouraging that I am taking up the presidency of CHA in this politically charged city in a country that is crucially important to the Caribbean.
“During our first Annual Caribbean Tourism Summit here in Washington we are therefore looking forward to having the opportunity to meet with U.S. representatives to create a better understanding of the significant role that tourism plays as the major engine of our economies, indeed in many islands it is the only engine. We hope the U.S. representatives will be sensitive to assisting us in developing our industry to ensure the economic sustainability of our region.
“We have taken the first steps to increase and strengthen our advocacy programme in Washington and we have the responsibility to communicate this message about our industry. We have had initial discussions with the Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization who shares our objectives in this regard and this is a communications programme that both organizations need to move jointly to the front burner. If we fail in tourism, our economies fail. If our economies fail, it will have an adverse impact on our closest neighbor the U.S.”
De Marchena noted that “Over the last few years we have vastly improved our tourism infrastructure as well as our hotel product. And we now need to come together under the Caribbean Brand as a region to improve the marketing of our hotels, the destinations and the region to increase the flow of vacationers to the Caribbean. It is interesting to note that the consumer sees us in the Caribbean as one region but we do not see ourselves through the same eyes.”
He also pointed out that the Dominican Republic, for the first time in years, has been making a major investment in infrastructure and recently made a major investment in promotion with a $24 million annual budget for the last three years.
Much of the growth in the tourism product in the Dominican Republic is being geared to target the high end vacationer, he said adding: “I am proud to say that the Dominican Republic is right now an excellent model to follow and our region should feel free to copy our current success.”
He pointed out that the Dominican Republic government has begun to expend major resources in tourism in the country. “They realized that this is an investment with immediate return that supports the whole chain of the Dominican economy, the agricultural sector, cattle, telecommunications and construction,” he said.
But he also raised the concerns that are being felt by everyone in the travel industry saying: “I am personally concerned with the decision by North American airlines serving the Caribbean to reduce service as a result of escalating fuel prices. With some 95% of our tourism GDP coming from visitors arriving by air, any significant reduction in the air service to our destinations is bound to have serious effects on our Caribbean economies which are more tourism dependent than any other region in the world.
“Over the past month, the principals of the Caribbean Hotel Association have been proactively meeting with CTO and tourism officials to analyze this matter and look for solutions that can work. CHA, along with CTO, will continue working closely together with our industry partners, the airlines, to address this issue head on in order to protect our tourism industry and its economic benefits to the region.”
However, De Marchena noted he was encouraged to hear that the CARICOM Heads of Government, consisting of some of the most important and influential Prime Ministers, acknowledge the crucial importance of tourism to the economies of the Caribbean and set aside a full-day, in which the focus of their attention will be solely on tourism issues, at their next meeting in July.
He said: “But this is only the beginning and we must now take this door that has opened and step inside the room and make our case for a sustainable tourism policy plan for each and every nation and the Caribbean as a region. Only then will we get the full respect and funds we need to compete effectively with the other nations and regions of the world.
“We need to band together in greater solidarity than every before to ensure that this door does not close, but opens as wide as our beaches. This is our opportunity to raise the level of consciousness of our politicians, our opportunity to push for investments in our infrastructure, our time to push for funds for the promotion of tourism to attract visitors which will help increase the revenues for each of our nations.”
De Marchena set forward three goals which he will focus on for his administration over the next two years.
“First, we need to focus on the integration of tourism into the economic chain on the islands as we have millions of tourists buying vacations which include hotels, taxis, restaurants, shops and sightseeing attractions which all feed the wider economy of the islands.
“This benefit of tourist spending impacting into the wider economy is the relevance that needs to be conveyed to the people of the islands so that everyone understands the importance of these tourists and the dollars they bring to the economy.
“The second area we need to focus on is equally important. It is the human resource development that the tourism industry provides for the residents of the Caribbean. Tourism business means jobs, not only in the hotels, but work for the taxis, the restaurants and the farmers and fishermen that fill the restaurants with food. It also means work for the seamstress and the crafts people. And the shopkeepers including all their workers including the deliverymen as well as the trash collectors.
“Tourism means business for all residents on our islands and we need to create a better understanding of this within our own communities. We need to raise the level of consciousness with our own residents and ensure that they can participate in the ownership and economic benefits of the industry.
“We need to make a statement to the world; to our politicians and to the general population of our countries that tourism feeds the economic chain and builds strength in the human resource development of our children.
“Third, we need to have an integration of the needs of development, of growth of our economies, as a way to feed our people, with a proper development of our natural resources. Why, because there is just one chance to do it right with our natural resources. Once we incorrectly exploit them, they are gone. I once said and repeat it that Tourism Development and Environmental Sustainability are Twin brothers, SIAMESE, and you can not operate without both of them, they have to stick together.”
De Marchena praised the work of the national hotel association executives across the Caribbean. “These individuals, some of which have been at their jobs for years, others that are new to the hotel associations, but all of them are the keys to our individual and collective success as the Caribbean Hotel Association. We owe them a debt of gratitude for all that they do every day to help us maintain a successful tourism infrastructure and their support of the government tourist offices.
He intends to “reinvigorate” the Board of Directors and national hotel association executives. He said “I want to support the Association Executives so that they can continuously drive the successes for each local hotel association. I want to direct the CHA staff so that they may implement the programs that we as a Board decide are the most suitable and those that make the most business sense for our hotels.
“I challenge you the Board Members to design the platform that will shape our future and I will lead us on the path of that future and execute the ideas that will carry us into the future which will make a business out of it and deliver on our goals.
“I want to have an active role with the local hotel associations and to communicate the role of CHA to the people of the Caribbean so that they learn and understand what CHA is doing on their behalf.” He concluded with the emphatic note that “tourism is the business of all in the Caribbean.”
Enrique De Marchena is Managing Partner of De Marchena Kaluche & Asociados- Central Law. He founded the firm in 1992 together with his partners Dr. Sergio Fed. Olivo and Jesus Almanzar. He is recognized as the legal counsel with the most expertise in the tourism sector of the Dominican Republic.
His practice focuses on international transactions, real estate and tourism, corporate and business law, foreign investment and governmental affairs. Over the past 15 years he has provided assistance and represented many of the principal tourism projects, hotel chains, tour operators, timeshare companies, airlines, theme parks, among others. He has worked on structuring sales, mergers and acquisitions and helped to develop several of the most important tourism projects in the Dominican Republic.
He is a member of the Dominican Bar Association; Inter-American Bar Association and American Bar Association; a member of the Young Entrepreneurs Dominican Association (ANJE); on the Board of Directors of Hotels and Restaurants Association of Dominican Republic since1998; Honorary Consul of Jamaica in Dominican Republic (since 1994); president of the National Association of Hotels and Restaurants – ASONAHORES (2004-2006); president of the Duty Free Shops Association of Dominican Republic (since 1998); former president of the Tourism Promotion Council – CPT (2002-2004); former President of the Dominican-Canadian Chamber of Commerce (1998-2002); Delegate of Business Forum, Toronto (1999), and Delegate of the Dominican Delegation in the 50th Anniversary of the International Organization of Civil Aviation (1994).
He was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1963, graduated from Universidad Nacional Pedro Henr’quez Ureña as Doctor of Laws (LL.M.)*censored*Laude (1984) and earned his Master Degree in Business Administration at the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo INTEC (1990). He is married with four children