The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is deeply saddened and shocked by the passing of Prof. Rex Nettleford. The Caribbean has lost a true icon, a dedicated son, a committed servant and an ardent champion for, and defender of, its identity.
Prof. Nettleford was a friend of the Caribbean Tourism Organization and was always keen to offer his extraordinary vision , unique perspective and profound wisdom whenever we called on him. It was his unrelenting and unapologetic devotion to the region, as a multi-talented Caribbean man, that led the CTO to invite him to give the key note address at the Caribbean Tourism Conference in 2003 and present him with our Lifetime Achievement Award at our inaugural Annual Caribbean Tourism Summit June 2008. His performance on this occasion – yes, every speech he delivered at a CTO event was indeed a performance – was unforgettable.
Prof. Nettleford gave his life and talents to the Caribbean , and because of this we are a better people. It is instructive that his last act was to help raise funds for the University of the West Indies (UWI), where he was vice-chancellor emeritus. His legacy will be lasting. His passing has left a void that will be difficult to fill.
The entire CTO family extends our sincerest condolences to the Nettleford family, as well as the extended Caribbean family that Prof. Nettleford nurtured both directly and indirectly; the UWI; Jamaica’s National Dance Theatre Company, which he founded and led for almost half a century; and all who mourn his loss.