When Barbados hosts the 41st annual Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace this May, the first time in CHTA’s history, the island’s local hotel and tourism association will introduce to the global travel community one of its newly minted leaders.

Following the recent departure of two chief executive officers – Rudy Grant, now Barbados’ Consul General in Miami, and then cruise industry veteran Geoffrey Roach – Ryan Forde will become CEO of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) on February 13.

Renée Coppin, Chair of the BHTA and a distinguished local hotelier, said the association’s board of directors and members were unanimous in their excitement and pleasure at his selection.

“In our 70th year of existence as an association, as a mature tourism destination coming out of a pandemic, we feel it is time for our industry to take fresh guard,” she commented, referring to the cricket expression when a batsman marks where he or she will stand in relation to the stumps and gets ready to build or resume an innings. With more than 12 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Forde, 34, has held various management positions and joins the BHTA having served as a sales and marketing manager at Jamaica’s acclaimed tour company, Chukka Caribbean Adventures, which operates across five Caribbean destinations.

The bilingual Barbadian holds a master’s degree in tourism and hospitality from EADA Business School (Barcelona, Spain) and a bachelor’s degree with honours from the Barcelona Business School (UIBS) in international business and a minor in tourism management. According to the BHTA, he is the first Barbadian to be accepted and graduate from the Elevator Management Trainee program for Hilton Worldwide, where he trained as a manager across multiple Hilton brands and departments throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. 

With a proven track record of successfully delivering on significant marketing projects and sales initiatives, Forde explained that he is up for the challenge of being one of, if not, the youngest CEOs to join the BHTA team. He noted that his main mission is to work towards the continuous improvement, growth and success of the Barbados tourism industry.

Coppin said: “Ryan represents the new face of the organisation while incorporating the best of our traditional values of excellence, which we hold dear as an association. He is a young, intelligent, well-educated, and trained industry professional and totally symbolizes our commitment to bring the best and brightest into this, our island's leading industry.”