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Tourism Innovation talks set for St. Lucia

ST. LUCIA – Participants at Counterpart International’s Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) assembling in St. Lucia are eagerly awaiting news of how their destinations rank against other tourism locations.

James Dion, Associate Director of the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, will deliver the rankings of the Caribbean destinations from National Geographic’s annual Destination Scorecard survey, which reflects evaluations made by a panel of well-traveled experts representing a variety of fields, including ecology, sustainable tourism, geography, travel writing and photography, site management, historic preservation, indigenous cultures and archaeology.

James Dion

The Washington DC-based Dion said small island developing states in the Caribbean performed well, but challenges remain. “Many of these places are managing their destinations very positively,” said Dion, pointing to Dominica and the Grenadines which scored high marks on the survey designed to highlight issues of stewardship, put them on the table for public discussion and facilitate ways for destinations to improve.

He pointed to challenges in managing growth as destinations could quickly become spoiled if they lose their “sense of place.” “The greatest asset the Caribbean has is the unique sense of place – the question we must ask is how do we preserve the cultural scape while taking advantage of the economic opportunities offered by tourism.”

The Caribbean’s top tourism personalities will open the 11th full edition of CMEx in St. Lucia on Friday morning.

Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Bahamian Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, and Chairman of the Caribbean Hotel Association Berthia Parle of St. Lucia’s Bay Gardens Resorts start the discourse at the newly opened Palm Haven boutique hotel in the north of the island as delegates examine the theme, “Caribbean Tourism: Another Level of Innovation.”

The opening session, to be moderated by television personality and travel professional Andria Hall, who also is an author and a former CNN news anchor, will also feature Patrick Cozier, Secretary General of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union.

Matthew Sams, Vice President of Caribbean Relations of Holland America, will update participants on the new direction of the cruise industry. Also, Caroline Racine, Director of Caribbean Franchise Development for Choice Hotels speaks on branding as an innovative approach to operating hotels.

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