June 26, 2002 – Richard Doumeng, general manager of Bolongo Bay Beach Club and Villas and former president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, is now the fifth vice president of the Caribbean Hotel Association and chair of its Small Hotels Committee.
He was elected to the posts at the CHA annual meeting, held June 16-19 at the Wyndham El Conquistador Resort and Country Club in Puerto Rico.
Doumeng, who has been a member of the Small Hotels Committee for a dozen years, said he agreed to serve as a vice president of the association only because his fellow members elected Simon Suarez of the Dominican Republic to serve as president. "He's a real reformer and knows we have to do business differently. He's really going to shake up the old boys' club," Doumeng said.
Suarez is vice president for development of Coral Hotels and Resorts, a hotel management and development company with properties in various parts of the Dominican Republic.
Doumeng was often outspoken during the four years he was president of the local hotel association before stepping down at the end of 2001. He said he was surprised to see his name on the CHA ballot because he has long been a critic of the association. The fifth, and last, vice president usually gets elected to successive vice presidencies until he reaches the presidency of the association five years later, he said, but he isn't counting on that being the case for him.
He does have some strong feelings about ways to improve the organization and the state of tourism in the region, however. In order to promote the Caribbean effectively, he said, all of the region's governments need to put a percentage of their marketing efforts into a regional campaign. "A regional marketing plan is a must," he said.
He also has a few ideas up his sleeve to do a better job of promoting small hotels, which are defined as 50 rooms or fewer, and which make up more than half of the Caribbean properties. "We're trying to figure out a way to set up a separate image for small hotels," he said, noting that one possibility would be to create a distinct icon for small hotels on the Caribbean Hotel Association web site.
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