(CASTRIES, Saint Lucia – Friday, January 28, 2022) – The Saint Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association (SLHTA) continues to express condolences on the passing of Caribbean tourism stalwart and distinguished diplomat, Dr. Jean Holder.
Dr. Holder died on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, at age 85, while being treated for an illness in hospital.
Best known for his 30-year leadership of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Dr. Holder later served as Chairman of regional carrier, LIAT (1974) Ltd., from which he retired in December 2019.
President of the SLHTA, Paul Collymore, remembers serving with Dr. Holder as a fellow judge for the Barbados Tourism Awards, describing the late tourism stalwart as “affable and selfless”. Collymore said Dr. Holder was very involved with training and development of tourism in Barbados and the wider Caribbean.
“He always came across as a man of integrity with lots of knowledge and did not hesitate to share his knowledge with others,” Collymore said.
In 1995, Dr. Holder became the first recipient of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Nine years later, he received the CTO’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, honored both he and his wife in renaming the Hospitality Institute of the Barbados Community College the now Jean and Norma Hospitality Institute of the Barbados Community College in 2021, as they were instrumental in setting up that school.
Commenting on Dr. Holder’s death, Prime Minister Mottley said: “Barbados and the region will continue to owe this soft-spoken, always confident, forever reassuring son of the Caribbean Sea a debt of gratitude.”
In a statement following Dr. Holder’s passing, the CTO said: “Those of us who worked with Dr. Holder can attest to him truly being a mentor, subtly encouraging and, as if by osmosis, imparting his insights to you. This continued, even after he moved on from active professional life, when neither his age nor incursions on his health dampened his resolve to be a positive influence, to make a significant difference and to keep his finger on the pulse of the Caribbean.”
In 1974, Dr. Holder was hired to head the newly-established Caribbean Tourism Research and Development Centre, which, in 1989 merged with the Caribbean Tourism Association to form the present-day Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). He served at the CTO’s helm as Secretary General until 2004 and is credited with changing the course of Caribbean tourism.
“Despite being from Barbados, Dr. Holder was a true regionalist,” Collymore said. “He has given a lifetime of service, including serving as head of the CTO and, following his retirement, when he returned to serve as Chairman of LIAT (1974) Ltd. He joined LIAT (1974) Ltd. at a very challenging juncture and gave his unwavering support towards resuscitating the embattled regional airline.”
The SLHTA, therefore, expresses our heartfelt condolences to the family, relatives and friends of the late Dr. Jean Holder, described as the father of regional tourism development. His lifelong contribution to tourism will undoubtedly be a reference point in the annals of regional tourism.