Frank Comito leaves his position at CHTA and Vanessa Ledesma takes over
The seasoned official takes on the role of CEO and Acting CEO
Frank Comito resigned as CEO and Managing Director of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) after guiding the association through the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, several devastating hurricanes and numerous global hurricanes. . challenges that impact the main industry in the region.
Comito's transition comes at the end of nearly 40 years of service to local and regional private sector organizations in the Caribbean.
In a message to members, Comito, who will serve as the organization's part-time Special Advisor, said he was proud of the speed and efficiency with which the CHTA has adapted over the past 10 months, working in collaboration with the parties. stakeholders from the public and private sectors to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the multiple critical challenges for recovery efforts that, he said, would accelerate the recovery of the Caribbean tourism sector.
He added that COVID-19 remained a critical concern and stated that the industry needs the CHTA, its regional public sector ally, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), and local public and private sector tourism associations and entities that they work together for the recovery of the industry now. never. "Our work has a final impact on the restoration of tourism and the economy," he stated.
Looking ahead to the future of Caribbean tourism and CHTA, he expressed optimism that despite the headwinds facing the tourism sector and the association, industry leadership working with local and regional tourism associations will address the needs immediate, mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and help steer a course into the future.
He recalled how 18 months ago the CHTA leadership had charted a new direction and the association was well on its way to implementation when COVID-19 hit. "While we immediately changed course, adapting to the changing needs of the industry, we have not lost sight of the long road to the continued viability of the CHTA and our role in continuing to support tourism development," he said.
Comito was hired by CHTA six years ago when he made a five-year commitment to help reorient the organization and address several long-standing challenges facing the organization. Having successfully addressed most of the issues, as well as others that were not anticipated, you are moving forward to pursue other personal and professional goals while continuing to support CHTA.
During his tenure, Comito improved communication with members and raised the public profile of CHTA and Caribbean tourism through the adoption of consumer, commerce and social media, as well as digital communications platforms.
As part of his transition away from serving at the helm of the CHTA, the award-winning tourism executive expressed his pleasure that the leadership of the CHTA had endorsed Vanessa Ledesma taking on the role of Interim Executive Director and Managing Director, effective 1 January 2021.
He praised Ledesma, who previously served as COO, for her skills, experience, integrity, deep passion for CHTA and the industry, and her extensive professional relationships built with trust over two decades while working with CHTA.
Emphasizing that the sustained viability of the CHTA would not happen on its own and would require continued commitment from the industry, he implored members not to shy away from providing the voluntary and financial support to the CHTA that is essential to accelerating the recovery of the industry and your own success. . "The CHTA is your organization and its successes are directly linked to the soul of its members who sustain and nurture it," he said.
Comito appreciated his good luck in being surrounded by a great team of volunteer leaders, a dedicated and supportive staff, and people committed to the development of tourism in the region.
He also highlighted the importance of working together and greeted the CHTA presidents under whom he served: Emil Lee of St. Maarten; Karolin Troubetzkoy from Saint Lucia; Patricia Affonso-Dass from Barbados; and most recently, Pablo Torres from Venezuela / Puerto Rico, drawn from “a long list of dedicated local and regional leaders from many walks of life who have guided and supported me during the 40 years in which I have been fortunate to be a part from the Caribbean."
While the challenges presented by the pandemic will continue, Comito said that 2021 will be a turning point for the industry.
He assured members that the association was in good hands, “with a great volunteer leadership team, an interim CEO and CEO and a small support staff supported by their part-time consultant role, and the Marketplace Excellence team. (MPE), our communications consultants".