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Posted: Friday 5 July, 2024 at 11:19 AM

Tommy Thompson reflects on time at SKTA as new CEO takes over

By: Jermine Abel,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -- AFTER two and a half years at the helm of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority (SKTA), Ellison ‘Tommy’ Thompson has been replaced as CEO, feeling he has accomplished most of his goals.


    Thompson took over the role in January 2022, succeeding outgoing CEO Racquel Brown, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic when the local tourism sector was facing significant challenges.


    In a conversation with SKNVibes News, Thompson shared that he achieved around 90 percent of his objectives.


    "When I came in, we were still under those stringent COVID protocols, so that was quite a challenge in terms of enticing visitors to come to St. Kitts without them having to jump through a number of hoops," he said.


    St. Kitts and Nevis had some of the strictest measures in the region, leading to a substantial decline in tourism numbers.


    Thompson, a Bahamian with extensive experience in the tourism sector both regionally and internationally, was asked if the COVID-19 period was the toughest of his career.


    He affirmed, "Yes, it was definitely the hardest. When I came to St. Kitts, it was basically at the tail end of the COVID, but it was still the regulations that St. Kitts had were high. But usually when there was something going on, not all markets were affected. So if Canada was affected, you could look at the U.S. If the U.S. was affected, you could look at Canada and the U.K. But during COVID, everything was shut down. So it was a matter of how do you keep the lights on, and how do you keep your destination relevant, and top of mind for when things improved, and you could get visitors back into your destination.”


    Now that you're leaving, what's the one thing that you'd say you're happy about, or the major achievement for you while you were at the Tourism Authority?


    “Two things. One, I'm very proud of the team at the St. Kitts Tourism Authority. I think they have grown tremendously. They were very interested in the business of tourism. I was happy to share my years of experience with them. I think they lapped it up like sponges. And one of the things I wanted to make sure that they did was make recommendations. What do you think about this particular situation, rather than coming to me for a solution? What are your thoughts about it? I think that has made them grow tremendously. And then the other thing is definitely bringing JetBlue into the Federation, giving us year-round service from the New York area," noted Thompson


    Thompson left office on July 1, with St. Lucia’s Kelly Fontenelle taking over as CEO. She aims to build on the foundation laid by her predecessor.


    Thompson expressed his fondness for the Federation and openness to assist in the future if needed. He plans to take a three-month break before embarking on his next venture.


    The second part of his interview will be published at a later date.




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