WILLEMSTAD – Over the last few days, my name has been appearing in the print and electronic media as well as on social media with varying comments about my tenure and status at Curaçao Tourist Board (CTB).
On July 30, I was advised in writing by the CTB Board that the Minister of Economic Development had declined an extension of my contract on the basis that I had already passed the retirement age for the Director of the organization.
I have had no discussion with the Minister or the Board about this unusual development, but to my surprise, the Chairman of the Board and the Minister have been all over the media explaining that my contract will not be renewed and a replacement for me has been identified. I am astonished by the unprofessional manner in which this has been handled. It has therefore become necessary for me to issue this statement outlining the facts.
October 2018 I took a contract of assignment with the Curaçao Tourism Development Foundation, also known as CTB, to be the CEO for a period of 3 years. I took on that assignment with a clear understanding that in the final year of the contract a local counterpart would be recruited to work alongside me for a period of 6 months and to take over as CEO upon my departure.
In June/July 2019, the Government appointed a multi-sector committee, to research and make recommendations on this question: Should CTB be transitioned into a Curaçao Tourism Authority (CTA)? Such a change would be similar to what has happened in Aruba and other islands that have been very successful in their tourism development. The committee comprised of members from CTB, CHATA, MEO and the Ministry of Finance. Dino Daal of CTB chaired this committee.
The committee presented its report to the Minister of Economic Development on January 31, 2020 and the report was subsequently tabled at the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers decision was handed down on March 18, 2020. The Minister of Economic Development was mandated to coordinate and implement the decision.
The recommendation to transition the CTB from a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) to a Destination Management and Marketing Organization (DMMO) was agreed by the Council of Ministers. It was further agreed that the prime objective of this change was to make the CTA a more independent organization financially, legally, and operationally.
A plan to implement the decision point was presented to the Minister of Economic Development and the Economic Development and Innovation Sector of the Ministry on November 6, 2020. The specific task to establish the new CTA organization was to be led by the CEO of the CTB. That specific task involved;
a. Developing in collaboration with the Tourism sector a Mission, Vision and the Objectives/Functions of the CTA.
b. When the above is agreed and approved by the Innovation Sector of the Ministry, the job of designing the Organization that will deliver those objectives would be contracted out to a 1 company specializing in Organizational restructuring.
c. The selected company would deliver a revised organizational structure with list of positions, job functions, etc. that would be required to execute the job of the new DMMO – The CTA.
d. Upon receipt of that final report, the revised organizational structure would be implemented and the CEO would lead that process.
The end result of this professionally conducted process would be an organizational structure designed to fit the purpose and the best persons for each of the job functions would fit seamlessly into the new organization. Unfortunately, previous attempts at reorganizing the CTB have tried to create an organization to fit the people already here, instead of designing the right organizational structure and fit the people into the structure.
A timeline was developed to implement all of the above. The target date for completion was March 2022.
In February 2021, the Minister of Economic Development and the CTDF Board met to discuss among other things, the implementation of the CTA plan. Based on the fact that the target date to complete this project was March 2022 and my contract would expire October 2021, the Minister asked the Board to extend the contract for up to a year. The Board agreed. The Chairman of the Board directed the lawyer on the Board to handle the details of the contract extension with me. I met with this Board member twice on this matter.
In March 2021 at a CTDF Board meeting, it was reconfirmed that Pennicook was leading the transformation and the counterpart for which there had already been advertisements, would inherit a restructured organization – The CTA.
On July 30 the Board advised me that they made a request to the new Minister to extend my contract to March 2022 so that I could complete the work on the CTA, but the Minister declined the extension on the basis that I had already passed the mandatory retirement age for the Director of the organization.
Although I have tried, I have not been given the opportunity to discuss this matter with the Minister together with the Board. Instead, to my amazement, I have been hearing and seeing all sorts of comments in the media from the Minister and the Chairman about the non-renewal of my contract.
I am an American citizen who was born in Jamaica and reside in Florida. I graduated from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca New York. I have held a number of Senior Executive positions in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry involving Executive Vice President of Unique Vacations (Sandals Marketing Division) President & CEO of Couples Resorts (a group of All Inclusive Resort Hotels) and Senior VP-Sales & Marketing – Air Jamaica, among others. I have also served as Director of Tourism for the island of Jamaica twice, the only person to have ever done so.
My career in Hospitality and Tourism has been extensive and this is the first time that I have had to live through such an experience. I am a professional and I value my professional integrity and so I am still open to respectful dialogue which will hopefully lead to a mutually acceptable conclusion of this unfortunate turn of events.
I am issuing this statement to correct some of the misinformation that has been in the media. At the appropriate time, I will share a further statement regarding my tenure in Curaçao.
CEO Curaçao Tourist Board
18 August 2021
Bron: Curacao Chronicle