Hendrix, cited for significant contribution to tourism product | Leading stories

WEST BUREAU:

The death of veteran tour operator Robert Hendricks has sent shock waves through the island’s tourism sector, prompting expressions of sadness from many, including Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett and Opposition tourism spokeswoman Senator Janice Allen.

The 75-year-old owner of Caribbean World died at his home in Montego Bay, St. James, yesterday morning after a short illness.

Senator Allen expressed her grief, saying: “I am deeply saddened and shocked to learn of Robert’s death. Robert, well known in the industry, particularly in the transport sector, has made a significant contribution to our travel product.”

Reflecting on his remarkable journey with Lollipop on the Beach in Sandy Bay, Hanover, Senator Allen noted his many contributions to the industry, leaving behind a lasting legacy that will transcend his time.

His work put Hanover’s Sandy Bay on the tourist map as “Lollipop” became a signature attraction and major employer for the community.

“At this difficult time, our thoughts and heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” Allen said.

Faith in your country

Bartlett, in a release, described Hendricks as one of the pillars of Jamaica’s post-independence tourism industry.

“Robert was one of those remarkable Jamaicans who had a firm belief in his country and a firm belief in the contribution that tourism could make to its development and the economic life of the people,” Bartlett said, noting that Hendrix’s contributions to tourism were cumulative spans over 40 years and that he is a pioneer in all aspects of the word.

“Robert Hendricks was a firm believer in Jamaicans owning a share of the tourism pie and being involved at senior management levels. He has demonstrated this as an entrepreneur in the tours, ground transport and entertainment sub-sectors of the industry,” the minister recalled.

“He actually revolutionized marketing and sales, pioneering the introduction of tour guides and opening up thinking to different levels of marketing concepts that have been emulated by others in the travel industry,” he added.

Bartlett offered his condolences to Hendrix’s family and colleagues, noting that his personality and what he brought to tourism will be truly missed.

Longtime friend Fred Smith of Tropical Tours, who traveled extensively with Hendrix around the world, described him as a visionary who played a key role in introducing tour guides to tour buses.

“He was the ultimate salesman and was always interested in the development of tourism in Jamaica. For him, the most important thing was the livelihood of the people in this country.”

Hendrix’s business partner, Bhaskar Reddy of Bhavela/Tuff Gong, was left in a state of disbelief when speaking to The Gleaner yesterday afternoon, saying Hendrix was “one of the great human beings to grace this earth.”

“He was always available, no matter what time of the day or night,” says Reddy.

During Hendrix’s presidency at the Russea High School in Hanover, the development of school football made significant strides. The school won the daCosta Cup multiple times during his tenure.

“A decent human being”

Hendrix, who entered the travel industry in the late 1970s, worked at JAM Tours, managed SunMar Tours and later joined the late Ralph Smith at Tropical Tours.

“He was a good marketing guy, helping keep the Tropical Tours ship steady,” Smith said.

Attorney and friend of more than 30 years, Henry McCurdy, spoke of a man who was a mentor to all the young business operators in St. James and Hanover Parishes.

“He was a selfless, encouraging and dignified man. The travel industry has lost a good soul and one of the best negotiators in the industry,” McCurdy said, adding that Hendricks was extremely kind and played the part of a good fellow who never saw color.

A member of the Breakfast Club at the Pelican Grill, Montego Bay’s most popular restaurant, Hendricks works tirelessly at his Caribbean World office through Thursday, providing exceptional service.

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