“If you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place. Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be” – Job 8:6,7.
The CMEx team, led by Bevan Springer and efficiently supported by Simone Christian in St. Lucia, secured sponsorship primarily from the St. Lucia Tourist Board, the St Lucia Hotel & Tourism Association, Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, Choice Hotels International, SpeakEasy Media, BET J, Air Jamaica and LIAT and have pulled off another remarkable CMEx event – www.caribbeanmediaexchange.com. The theme of this St. Lucia event was “Caribbean Tourism: Another Level of Innovation”. As one participant commented “I think something magical happened this time which is hard to explain”.
I believe that there are several elements which have contributed to the magic of this CMEx event: (1) Participants were drawn from the Dutch, Spanish, French and English Speaking Caribbean with its multi-lingual and multi-cultural implications;
(2) participants spanned the diverse range from talented youth to experienced professionals which provides that bridge to secure the future; (3) participants were accommodated at several hotels (Sandals Halcyon, Bay Gardens Inn, Almond Smugglers Cove, Palm Haven and Village Inn), their generosity driven by their desire to expose their facilities to media and tourism personnel; (4) the punctual and comfortable return coach travel (St. Lucia Tourist Board) from hotel to each event created an atmosphere of camaraderie and bonding; (5) the diversity of tourism venues – reception (Raffles – St Lucia Golf Club) – opening and closing session (Palm Haven Hotel and Royal St. Lucian) – lunch (Bay Gardens Beach Resort, Almond Smugglers Cove, Anse Chastanet & Jade Mountain Resort sandwiched between relaxing Leeward boat rides by Carnival Party Cruises); dinner, awards and talent show (Windjammer Landing Villa, Beach Resort & Spa); dinner at Gordon’s restaurant, Sandals Grande; and entertainment at the annual Heineken Kalalu World Music Festival; and (6) the format from each session was creative and varied which provided an optimum mixture of fun and serious business.
We were treated to wonderful vocal renditions by Rhea Dummett, a Guyanese now resident in New York, at the opening and awards sessions and less formally sitting at the piano bar at the Sandals Halcyon. Rhea has been blessed with talent and creativity. She attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston where she graduated at the top of her class with a Bachelor of Music Degree focusing on performance, song writing and music business.
CMEx XI got off to a good start with a presentation by Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace Secretary General of CTO. He led a discussion on tourism opportunities and I recommend his presentation, on the CMEx website, as required reading by all tourism and media professionals. Internet listeners may have already heard him since the event was streamed live through the compliments of www.wearethecaribbean.com. Vincent drew attention to the need to think outside of the box and not to focus on “where has it been done before”. He gave many examples in support of his thesis and concluded by exhorting the public and private sectors to play complementary roles where the private sector “gets on with the business”, exploiting every tourism opportunity, and the public sector provides regulatory and service functions in support of the national vision and specific private sector activities.
Patrick Cozier, Secretary General of CBU, in summing up the session, drew attention to the old adage “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. He then pointed out a paradigm shift promoted by a new book entitled: “If it ain’t broke, break it”. He advised participants that the way into the future had to be innovative. We cannot rest on our laurels, we cannot do what we have been accustomed, we must be ready and willing to change.
Speed Networking was alive and well at CMEx XI as many business opportunities between pairs of individuals were spawned between youth and experience as a means of securing the future.
I had an unexpected meeting with Caribbean sports journalist Joseph “Reds” Perreira who is resident in St Lucia. He called me and came around to the hotel for a chat. He was extremely concerned about the decaying state of the youth in the Caribbean in the context of the perpetration of high levels of criminal activity. He added that the extended delays in hearing court cases compounds the situation because youth are remanded in custody and are exposed for long periods to hardened criminals and by the time their case is heard the remediation process becomes more difficult.
He pointed out that as the President of the St. Lucia Boxing Association, he has been creating an opportunity for the boys on the block to join a boxing gym. He has been trying his best to promote the concept that access to sporting activities is a useful way to distract and develop the youth and employ the time and engage the minds of these idle youngsters to avert them from the inevitable criminal path. He is recommending that the public and private sectors should address this matter seriously so as to arrest the current decline among our youth and to create a more meaningful future.
If you are pure and upright, so prosperous will your future be.