“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” – Proverbs 3:27
In my previous column on November 5, 2023, I shared how a wave of nostalgia swept over me, transporting me back to the inaugural event of the Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx) on Sustainable Tourism symposium in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This event marked the launch of CMEx in the Caribbean, taking place in the aftermath of the tragic September 11, 2001 attacks on America. The conference showcased the resilience of the tourism sector.
In that column, I traced CMEx’s history and looked ahead to the highly anticipated CMEx Leadership Awards event, scheduled for December 2, 2023, at the Loews Coral Gables Hotel in Miami.
When the time came to give the vote of thanks, my son Bevan, CMEx’s president, invited me to the podium, and we shared a rare emotional moment. The event was over, a resounding success, and we were already planning the next event.
The distinguished awardees graciously accepted their honors. Many attended in person to receive their well-deserved accolades, while others either sent a representative or a video presentation to express their gratitude.
The event’s success was made possible by the support of our many corporate partners, who played a strategic role, and the presence of 120 attendees, who contributed to an atmosphere of camaraderie and panache. As a CMEx Board Director, I was gratified to witness the generous participation in the auction, which raised funds for educational initiatives.
This year, the CMEX awards function was sandwiched between an engaging and intense two days of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA’s) CHIEF conference and MPE’s company retreat and client meetings in Miami.
The initial concept behind CMEx was to organize regular regional and international symposia to build connections between journalists (young and experienced, local, regional, and international) and the Caribbean and international travel and tourism sector.
This vision was a culmination of ideas from various individuals, including Allen Chastanet, who was then a Senior Vice President at Air Jamaica; his boss, the late Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Chairman of Air Jamaica; Lelei LeLaulu, president of Counterpart International; and Bevan, who was a communications consultant with both organizations.
All agreed that the regional and international media, public and private sectors, and non-governmental organizations need better education about the actual value of tourism to the people and economies of the Caribbean.
Throughout its first decade, CMEx received valuable support from CHTA, the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, and countless stalwarts like renowned St. Lucian hotelier Berthia Parle, Puerto Rican tourism stalwart Terestella Gonzalez-Denton, and many other influential personalities and institutions representing the region’s public and private sectors.
Over time, this modest forum evolved into a powerful platform championing sustainable tourism development in small island developing states. This fundraising event also spotlights our unwavering commitment to supporting tourism education and charitable endeavors in the Caribbean and beyond.
As someone who has participated in all CMEx events over the past 22 years, I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to congratulate Bevan on his visionary and exemplary leadership. His commitment, hard work, ability to achieve objectives, and talent for motivating his team to perform in a stellar fashion have consistently shone time and time again.
The event ended on a high note, just as it had begun, with the audience inspired by an adapted version of David Rudder’s “Rally Round the West Indies” performed by Erphaan Alves and D piano girl Johanna. I encourage you to have a listen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPA3sVCXNEU.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is a Change-Engine Consultant. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns may be found at https://www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com).