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Hotel and Tourism Association President Resigns

Sept. 19, 2007 — Rik Blyth resigned as president of the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association this week after a little more than five months in the position.
The resignation, which takes place immediately, was made public Wednesday at the association's September membership meeting at the Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel. Richard Doumeng, HTA board chairman, praised Blyth's work.
"Rik Blyth has been an active and valuable contributor to the association for many years — as a board member, committee chair, allied member and, most recently, as president," Doumeng said, wishing Blyth well before continuing, "We hope to see him back in our industry soon."
The chairman read a statement in which Blyth thanked the association for the opportunity to serve as president before explaining, "I have been presented with the chance to pursue some other interests."
Blyth has extensive hotel experience in the territory. He served as general manager of the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort in St. Thomas until 1996, when the property closed for renovations, but returned in 1998. From 2004 until accepting the HTA presidency in April, Blyth served as managing director of Caneel Bay Resort on St. John.
"It was a very tough decision," Blyth said by phone after Wednesday's meeting. "This (job) was very different from anything I've ever done. It's a big change going from managing a large multimillion dollar company to a small nonprofit association. As much as I enjoyed it, I felt miscast. I've been running hotels with hundreds of employees for 12 years."
The move was necessary, he said.
"I hate to leave them in the lurch, but it seemed the right thing to do at this time before I got in any further," Blyth said. "The job was similar — I've been on the association board for nine years — but something just didn't feel right."
Pausing for a moment, he added, "When you realize the shoe doesn't fit, you've got to change the shoe."
While keeping mum about his new opportunity, Blyth confirmed one thing: "I am staying on the island with my wife. It's been our home since 1995, and we hope it will be for a long time to go."
Speaking after the meeting, Doumeng praised Blyth's years of service.
"Rik is such a great guy," he said. "He has done so much over the years. After Hurricane Marilyn he was sent to Puerto Rico, but he volunteered to come back and help us."
Doumeng wants the association to take its time replacing Blyth.
"The tourism industry has changed so rapidly in a very short period of time," he said. "Before we look for a new president, we want to look within, how it's set up, and see what we can do. We want to evaluate and analyze where we are now."
It's part of an evolutionary process, Doumeng said.
"We want to look at other organizations, certainly, on a regional scale," he said. "I'm vice president of the Caribbean Hotel Association, and we're doing the same thing. Even nonprofits have to evolve and change to remain relevant. We're going to take some time to spend together as a board and look beyond 2007."
For the time being, Doumeng said, the association is in good hands.
"We have Canika George running the office, Maggie Day as treasurer and the board is very strong," he said.
The chairman also addressed the situation on the big island.
"We are committed to our relationship with Patrick Henry, president of the St. Croix Hotel Association," he said. "We are committed to keeping our islands together. It took us so many years to get something called the USVI Hotel Association — that was a dream of Beverly's — and we are committed to making sure it works and continues to expand."
Although the St. Croix Hotel Association still exists, Doumeng said, "We combine our marketing and management agreements and resources."
The territory-wide association suffered a major blow earlier this year when it lost Beverly Nicholson Doty, who headed the Hotel Association for almost 14 years. Gov. John deJongh Jr. named her as tourism commissioner.
Before introducing the event's speaker, Director of the Bureau for Economic Research Lauritz Mills, Doumeng heaped volumes of praise on the recently restructured Tourism Department in general, and the recent V.I. Day promotion at Yankee Stadium in particular.
"The department is looking at more fun, non-traditional promotions," he said. "The Yankee Stadium event was brilliant. It was not a one-time thing. We have promotions, signage all through the stadium, and they will continue until the end of the season — spots on the Jumbotron, advertising in the Yankee publication."
It's money well spent, Doumeng said.
"This is better than a full-page full color ad in the travel magazines," he said. "It's not just depending on image advertising in an upscale travel publication."
A playoff run by the Bronx Bombers could further enhance the efforts.
"That could mean another 175,000 fans more than the regular season," Doumeng said.
In her presentation to the group, Mills, a 10-year veteran of the BER, stressed the importance of accurate submission of occupancy reports, timely information submission, the most effective ways to utilize the reports generated by her office and how the data is recorded.
The bureau is charged with collecting, producing and disseminating tourism and economic data, evaluating tourism and economic trends, creating economic and fiscal forecasts, and implementing and monitoring economic development plans for the territory.
Using a PowerPoint presentation, Mills showed examples of incomplete occupancy reports received by her office. The reproductions, with the hotel name omitted, illustrated some common errors, such as reporting a 111-percent occupancy rate.
"We don't want to deal with incongruities," Mills said. "We will come visit you and explain our concerns."
BER reports identify many variables affecting the marketing of a destination, including where the guests come from.
"We had one hotel report listing 2,000 guests, but no data at all about where they originated from," she said. That information is critical for successful marketing campaigns, she said.
Mills encouraged use of the bureau's website, usviber.org. Information frequently shows up there before it gets announced to the public, she said..
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Sept. 19, 2007 -- Rik Blyth resigned as president of the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association this week after a little more than five months in the position.
The resignation, which takes place immediately, was made public Wednesday at the association's September membership meeting at the Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel. Richard Doumeng, HTA board chairman, praised Blyth's work.
"Rik Blyth has been an active and valuable contributor to the association for many years -- as a board member, committee chair, allied member and, most recently, as president," Doumeng said, wishing Blyth well before continuing, "We hope to see him back in our industry soon."
The chairman read a statement in which Blyth thanked the association for the opportunity to serve as president before explaining, "I have been presented with the chance to pursue some other interests."
Blyth has extensive hotel experience in the territory. He served as general manager of the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort in St. Thomas until 1996, when the property closed for renovations, but returned in 1998. From 2004 until accepting the HTA presidency in April, Blyth served as managing director of Caneel Bay Resort on St. John.
"It was a very tough decision," Blyth said by phone after Wednesday's meeting. "This (job) was very different from anything I've ever done. It's a big change going from managing a large multimillion dollar company to a small nonprofit association. As much as I enjoyed it, I felt miscast. I've been running hotels with hundreds of employees for 12 years."
The move was necessary, he said.
"I hate to leave them in the lurch, but it seemed the right thing to do at this time before I got in any further," Blyth said. "The job was similar -- I've been on the association board for nine years -- but something just didn't feel right."
Pausing for a moment, he added, "When you realize the shoe doesn't fit, you've got to change the shoe."
While keeping mum about his new opportunity, Blyth confirmed one thing: "I am staying on the island with my wife. It's been our home since 1995, and we hope it will be for a long time to go."
Speaking after the meeting, Doumeng praised Blyth's years of service.
"Rik is such a great guy," he said. "He has done so much over the years. After Hurricane Marilyn he was sent to Puerto Rico, but he volunteered to come back and help us."
Doumeng wants the association to take its time replacing Blyth.
"The tourism industry has changed so rapidly in a very short period of time," he said. "Before we look for a new president, we want to look within, how it's set up, and see what we can do. We want to evaluate and analyze where we are now."
It's part of an evolutionary process, Doumeng said.
"We want to look at other organizations, certainly, on a regional scale," he said. "I'm vice president of the Caribbean Hotel Association, and we're doing the same thing. Even nonprofits have to evolve and change to remain relevant. We're going to take some time to spend together as a board and look beyond 2007."
For the time being, Doumeng said, the association is in good hands.
"We have Canika George running the office, Maggie Day as treasurer and the board is very strong," he said.
The chairman also addressed the situation on the big island.
"We are committed to our relationship with Patrick Henry, president of the St. Croix Hotel Association," he said. "We are committed to keeping our islands together. It took us so many years to get something called the USVI Hotel Association -- that was a dream of Beverly's -- and we are committed to making sure it works and continues to expand."
Although the St. Croix Hotel Association still exists, Doumeng said, "We combine our marketing and management agreements and resources."
The territory-wide association suffered a major blow earlier this year when it lost Beverly Nicholson Doty, who headed the Hotel Association for almost 14 years. Gov. John deJongh Jr. named her as tourism commissioner.
Before introducing the event's speaker, Director of the Bureau for Economic Research Lauritz Mills, Doumeng heaped volumes of praise on the recently restructured Tourism Department in general, and the recent V.I. Day promotion at Yankee Stadium in particular.
"The department is looking at more fun, non-traditional promotions," he said. "The Yankee Stadium event was brilliant. It was not a one-time thing. We have promotions, signage all through the stadium, and they will continue until the end of the season -- spots on the Jumbotron, advertising in the Yankee publication."
It's money well spent, Doumeng said.
"This is better than a full-page full color ad in the travel magazines," he said. "It's not just depending on image advertising in an upscale travel publication."
A playoff run by the Bronx Bombers could further enhance the efforts.
"That could mean another 175,000 fans more than the regular season," Doumeng said.
In her presentation to the group, Mills, a 10-year veteran of the BER, stressed the importance of accurate submission of occupancy reports, timely information submission, the most effective ways to utilize the reports generated by her office and how the data is recorded.
The bureau is charged with collecting, producing and disseminating tourism and economic data, evaluating tourism and economic trends, creating economic and fiscal forecasts, and implementing and monitoring economic development plans for the territory.
Using a PowerPoint presentation, Mills showed examples of incomplete occupancy reports received by her office. The reproductions, with the hotel name omitted, illustrated some common errors, such as reporting a 111-percent occupancy rate.
"We don't want to deal with incongruities," Mills said. "We will come visit you and explain our concerns."
BER reports identify many variables affecting the marketing of a destination, including where the guests come from.
"We had one hotel report listing 2,000 guests, but no data at all about where they originated from," she said. That information is critical for successful marketing campaigns, she said.
Mills encouraged use of the bureau's website, usviber.org. Information frequently shows up there before it gets announced to the public, she said..
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.