“Of Reflections… Joe Issa remembers Jamaica’s Tourism and 1994 World Award”

In the true spirit of Christmas, which is abound in Cool Corporation chairman Joe Issa, he reflects on one of the most memorable moments in his career, half way across the world on a stage in Sydney, Australia receiving the award of ‘Young Hotelier Of The World 1994.’

Joseph Issa Cool Group of Companies

The title, which is conferred by the United Nations-endorsed International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA), is in recognition of outstanding career achievement among young hotel executives around the world.

Held annually, the initiative is supported by HOTELS magazine and the winners are announced at the IH&RA’s annual congress around November where they receive an engraved Hutschenreuther trophy. Applicants age 30 years and below are assessed on their career performance, language skills and community participation, as well as professional outlook and attitude.

Issa, who had to show extensive command of his expertise and his discipline, was described at the time as “the youngest general manager in the SuperClubs chain of resorts, and has been in the hotel business from a very young age. A past student of Campion College, he graduated from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he was Valedictorian,” the Jamaica Observer reported, missing some other firsts arising out of his studies, such as becoming the youngest Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Jamaica.

In addition, Issa had to show involvement in community services, such as charitable work, business development, tourism councils, etc.; and he did with only a few highlighted. The citation said, “While in school, he initiated the programme, “Global 2000” recognized by the Florida State Board of Education for being “Most Promising International Intercultural Programme”, as it sought to twin local schools with international schools to provide cultural awareness and an exchange of ideas.” Issa’s earlier charity, ‘Educate the Children Fund’ founded while attending the London School of Economics seemed to have been overlooked.

Anyway, as it happened Issa didn’t need to show much more, other than that he possesses leadership abilities; displays commitment to excellence, quality and ethics; and evidence of commitment to the development of skills through continuing educational programmes, all of which were contained in the final citation: “He is currently a director of the Finance Committee of the St. Ann Chamber of Commerce, a Council member of the JHTA, as well as a member of the Marketing Committee of that body.”

Founded in 1946 in Paris, France and move to Geneva, Switzerland as of January 2008, the IH&RA is the only business organisation that represents the hospitality industry worldwide. Its members are national hotel and restaurant associations throughout the world, and international and national hotel and restaurant chains representing some 50 brands, according to its website.

The IH&RA has been officially recognised by the United Nations with whom a memorandum of understanding has been signed. This is a great boost for the association as it monitors and lobbies all international agencies on behalf of the hospitality industry, which is estimated to comprise 300,000 hotels and 8 million restaurants, employ 60 million people and contribute US$950 billion annually to the global economy.

“The hospitality industry in Jamaica, as it is worldwide, is the major contributor to the social and economic development of the country, and in receiving the trophy I knew then that I owed as much to my work as I did to the tourism industry here, which is bigger that anyone,” Issa recalls.

Issa joined his father’s SuperClubs chain of all-inclusive resorts fresh from university in 1988. He rose quickly up the ladder to eventually run the resorts as Executive Vice President. He won several local and international awards before leaving in 2003 to develop his own businesses.