Gerard “Jerry” Inzerillo, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide, known for his innovations and relationships in the tourism, hospitality, and entertainment communities, called for an urgent investment in the next generation of Caribbean travel and tourism leaders to elevate service standards within the region.
“We have the soul to do it – this region has soul and that is a bankable commodity, more than the beautiful turquoise waters,” Inzerillo told a packed audience at the opening of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF) in Puerto Rico last night.
“Importing (talent) is not an excuse,” he contended, underscoring the importance of training local workers. “It is (our) obligation to develop our own people…and talent,” said the chief executive who started his career as a busboy.
Inzerillo, who celebrates 50 years in the industry next year, asserted tourism, now 10 percent of global GDP, is “the single, great ambassador of humanity in the world because it celebrates all the stuff that’s in our soul.”
“It is not growing incrementally, it is exploding…we are in the right place at the right time. What is going to happen in travel in the next five years is breathtaking,” he remarked, highlighting trends such as multi-generational family travel, women traveling in groups and millennial travel.
However, he lamented it has never been more difficult to run a tourism entity, citing low margins, increased competition, the development of human resources, and a diversity of other challenges.