Barbados Has a Unique Vision: A Foreign Tourism CEO Is Proof
by: Juergen T Steinmetz |
Emerged from a commonwealth-dependent island, Barbados is a new republic and a young independent Caribbean nation of less than 300,000 in population.
Barbados appointing Jens Thraenhart as CEO of Barbados tourism is proof that Barbados thinks independently.
Almost all Caribbean islands offer beautiful beaches, and tourism is the most crucial export for most. All Caribbean islands are also diverse, unique, and proud of their cultures. Barbados is no exception.
On islands, sometimes it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know.
The first question on most islands, such as it is in Hawaii, is what school did you attend? If this school is not in Hawaii, you are a haole and not considered to be from “here.”
This is known as island mentality.
Barbados is a small island nation. On most islands, it’s not easy for a foreigner to be accepted among those who call themselves locals. Important leadership positions of a foreigner in the public or political domain are mostly unheard of in island nations.
In November 2021, Dr. Jens Thraenhart was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), the official national tourism organization of the island nation of Barbados in the Caribbean.
BTMI is responsible for promoting Barbados as a sustainable tourism destination by implementing marketing strategies that help the responsible development of tourism.
Barbados took a brave step when Dr. Thraenhart was appointed as the CEO of Barbados Tourism. In this position, he became the foreign face of this island nation.
Jens Thraenhart is a German Canadian and never lived or worked in the Caribbean before. However, he brought decades of global experience when he proudly started calling Barbados his beautiful new home.
Tourism for most island economies is everybody’s business, but having a foreigner take charge of it takes tolerance, understanding, and a lot of fine-tuning for everyone involved.
Foreigners often work as international consultants for local leadership but are seldom the official face of any public organization.
In just a little more than a year of wearing the hat of the man in charge in his top island position, Jens has managed to raise the bar for Barbados on the tourism map from Africa to Europe to North America, and even Brazil.
He did this in his style, bringing his expert experience to the island of Barbados.
His unique video blog, showcasing the island destination, going into the community, visiting small businesses, and learning from Barbadians by asking them what Barbados about set him on the path to leadership success.
He made the island nation an award-winning destination
Barbados is known as a more desirable travel destination.
For Jens, the environment and climate change have always been top priorities in the activities he has been involved with. The Green Destinations Story Award for Environment and Climate presented to Barbados had his fingerprints on it.
A proud Barbados Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Ian Gooding-Edghill, accepted the award in Germany on March 7, 2023, expressing gratitude to Green Destinations during ITB Berlin.
Barbados is the first island in the Caribbean to achieve a 100% renewable energy goal by 2030 and a 70% carbon neutrality goal by 2050. The strides taken thus far have landed Barbados its first milestone in this prestigious category, having the largest fleet of electric buses in the Caribbean.
Island nations in the Caribbean are diverse and different.
Fiji is another country with a foreigner who is in charge of tourism. Fiji has a little less than 900,000 people.
Brent Hill, an executive global leader and global award-winning marketer, specializes in tourism, finance, banking, telecommunications, and retail. He has become the face of Fiji tourism since July 2021.
In Barbados, Jens Thraenhart is the only foreign head of a tourism board who is also a World Tourism Network Hero.
The Tourism Heroes Award is open by nomination only to recognize destinations, stakeholders, activities, personalities, or associations that have shown extraordinary leadership, innovation, and actions. Tourism Heroes go the extra step.
Jens Thraenhart has over 25 years of international travel, tourism, and hospitality experience, spanning positions in operations, marketing, sales, revenue management, strategic planning, and e-business. Early in his career, Jens’ entrepreneurial edge was sharpened with his founding and operating a successful food catering company, starting a New York-based Internet leisure travel Internet company, and managing an independent luxury golf resort in Germany.
In 2014, Jens was appointed by the governments of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and PR China (Yunnan and Guanxi) to head the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) as its Executive Director/CEO for 4 consecutive contract terms, and he established the private sector-led regional tourism board Destination Mekong. In 2008, he co-founded the award-winning China digital marketing firm Dragon Trail and has led marketing and Internet strategy teams with the Canadian Tourism Commission (now Destination Canada) and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (now Accor).
With a doctorate in tourism and hospitality management (DHTM) from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, an MBA-accredited Master of Management in Hospitality from Cornell University, and a joint Bachelor of Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the University Center “Cesar Ritz” at Brig, Switzerland, Dr. Thraenhart has been recognized as one of the travel industry’s top 100 rising stars by Travel Agent Magazine in 2003, one of HSMAI’s 25 Most Extraordinary Sales and Marketing Minds in Hospitality and Travel in 2004 and 2005, one of the Top 20 Extraordinary Minds in European Travel and Hospitality in 2014, and recognized as one of the 10 Most Influential Travel Leaders in 2022.
He serves as the 2nd Vice Chair of the UNWTO Affiliate Members Board (World Tourism Organization), Executive Board Member of the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association (HSMAI), Executive Board Member of the International Federation of IT in Travel and Tourism, and was a Board Member of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), and past Chair of PATA China.
Barbados is a very tolerant island state with an open mind, equality, and the environment in mind.
Juergen Steinmetz, Chairman World Tourism Network
Congratulations again to Barbados for a unique approach to allowing a global vision within its tourism leadership.
Full article: Barbados Has a Unique Vision: A Foreign Tourism CEO Is Proof
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