Mottley, Browne lead tributes to former LIAT chairman HolderWednesday, January 26, 2022
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne have led tributes to the former chairman of the Antigua-based regional airline, LIAT, Dr Jean Holder, who died in his homeland, Barbados on Tuesday at the age of 85.
Holder served as chairman of the board of directors of LIAT, retiring in 2011 after seven years and in 2019, stepped down also as a director of the cash strapped company saying that it was fulfilling to perform this role in such a critical regional institution.
“I am truly saddened at the news of the passing of my dear friend and guide, whose departure will not just be a loss to Barbados, but the entire Caribbean,” Mottley said, describing Holder as a “genuine renaissance man”.
Browne, whose government is a shareholder of LIAT, said Holder served with “distinction” extending his condolences to the government and people of Barbados.
“The entire region is poorer by his passing,” Browne said, while his Junior Finance Minister, Lennox Weston, who served with Holder on the LIAT board, said the former chairman was always revered as a Caribbean intellectual who did practical things.
“He has been credited for putting together the organisational basis and analytical basis for tourism development and advancement and went on to LIAT board at a time when LIAT was serving more than 21 countries when most of the Caribbean governments pulled out their financial support.
“He held LIAT together for 16 years. He was a very quiet, dapper intellectual who with quiet persuasion…had good connections…with the leaders of the Caribbean”.
President of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIAPA), Patterson Thompson, also paid tribute to Holder, describing him as an astute professional.
“We did not always have the same opinion on certain things in LIAT. He was a class act, he did it with diplomacy and he did it with a certain amount of style. It was never a raised voice situation,” Thompson said on Observer Radio.
“He served well, he has played his innings and may he rest in peace and rise in glory”.
LIAT in a statement said it was “deeply saddened” by the passing of Holder, saying he will be remembered for creating the consultative mechanism meetings, a medium of communication between the management of LIAT and the Standing Regional Consultative Council of Trade Unions within the LIAT system which comprised of the eleven trade unions that represented LIAT employees.
“Dr Holder was known for his skilled diplomacy, faithful service and commitment to ensuring regional connectivity. We join in mourning the loss of this preeminent Caribbean son and passionate regionalist,” LIAT said.
It said Holder served in both public and private sector most notably as a diplomat, executive director of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and that he will be remembered for creating the Consultative Mechanism Meetings, a medium of communication between the Management of LIAT and the Standing Regional Consultative Council of Trade Unions within the LIAT System which comprised of the eleven trade unions that represented LIAT employees.
“Dr Holder was known for his skilled diplomacy, faithful service and commitment to ensuring regional connectivity. We join in mourning the loss of this preeminent Caribbean son and passionate regionalist,” the airline said.
Meanwhile, the Barbados-based CTO said it was joining the rest of the Caribbean in mourning the loss of Holder, “the father of regional tourism development”.
It said that Holder spent more than 30 years of his professional life leading the development and expansion of the sector that would become the region's main foreign exchange earner and the engine of economic growth.
“The Caribbean, and we may argue the greater world of tourism, truly has lost one of its pioneering sons. Dr Holder's progressive leadership during the formative years of Caribbean tourism distinguished him as a pillar of the region's tourism development.
“As a dedicated regionalist, he oversaw tourism's growth from infancy to its current various stages of maturity. Indeed, elements of the original Caribbean tourism ethos forged by the organizations which he led can be found in virtually every Caribbean nation, virtually every community and anywhere in the region where the tourism seed has been sown,” the CTO said.
It recalled that Holder sometimes joked that when he was hired in September 1974 to head the newly established Caribbean Tourism Research and Development Centre (CTRC), he was a man “whose only contact with tourism was as a tourist.”
“That organisation had a broad mandate for tourism education and training, tourism planning and research, as well as statistics. What he sought to create was a regional development agency which operated in the 'field of tourism' to build developmental change and economic growth. By the time of his retirement, one could not speak of Caribbean tourism without mentioning his name.”
The CTO said that when in 989, when the CTO was formed Holder was the man at the helm of the newly formed regional organization, with reach into North America and eventually the UK and Europe. Among his first priorities was to seek to change the course of Caribbean tourism, in anticipation of the dawn of the 21st century and the new developments and alliances that were at the time seen as visionary but are now part of our everyday reality.
“Today, the CTO stands proudly as a visible symbol of his success in building a development vehicle for the Caribbean tourism sector. His ultimate vision being grounded in the fact that, as a dynamic sector, tourism demands a constant action of development, even as we promote and market the uniqueness and diversity that exists in our Caribbean countries.
“The CTO council of ministers and commissioners of tourism, its board of directors, allied members, and staff share the region's grief and feel the sense of loss at Dr Holder's passing. He will be missed, but the mark he has made on this region will be long remembered.”
- Additional reporting by OBSERVER ONLINE