A novel gathering of journalists, tourism industry
folk, government officials and other movers and shakers in the largest employer in
the Caribbean has been so successful it is being pulled to other regions of the
The Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx) on sustainable tourism put together by
Counterpart International and a host of partners and supporters this month hosted
its first effort outside of the English-speaking Caribbean.
Speaking in the Dominican Republic shortly after the first experiment with CMEx in
the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, Counterpart President Lelei LeLaulu said the media
initiative had become such a successful model, that other regions of the world were
now requesting it.
“Having encountered our first CMEx outside of the English-speaking Caribbean we are
now responding to calls for the CMEx type exercise to look at sustainable tourism
development issues in Central Asia, the Andes in South America and in the South
Pacific,” he said.
CMEx, now into its fourth year, assembles Caribbean and international media and
industry stakeholders to share their concerns on tourism development and sustainable
issues. With sustainable tourism dependant on an informed and supportive public,
CMEx has been equipping journalists to deal with the subject accurately and in
The Counterpart President said that regional tourism bodies and corporate sponsors
who have supported the exchanges over the past three years were delighted with the
quality of tourism issues now being covered by the regional media.
“The corporate entities are the ones who keep a watch to see if they are getting
their monies’ worth from sponsoring the Caribbean Media Exchange and we are really
very pleased with the feedback we are receiving. We still have a long way to go but
so far so good,” he said.
LeLaulu said while the response from the private sector was encouraging there was
obviously room for greater support as the commercial community has a key role to
play, and a lot to gain, in the success of sustainable tourism.
“They need to recognize that sustainable tourism involves environmental
conservation, which deals with poor and needy communities, their health and culture,
and it is in their interest to become a major engine of change in these
communities,” he added.
The days of passive tourism, he said, may be over if tourism itself was to be
sustainable and everybody involved in the world’s fastest growing industry has to
realize that fact. “They have to see the value of actually improving a destination
in terms of its health, its culture and its environment,” he stressed.
Explaining the rationale behind CMEx and its usefulness in the promotion of
sustainable development issues, the Counterpart leader said “while Tourism Ministers
come and go, journalists on the tourism beat, some of whom have served a range of
print and electronic media, do represent a repository of wealth and experience.
“Their expertise has not been utilized because no one has asked them, so CMEx has
brought some of these individuals together to bring the indigenous knowledge in the
open, so that decision and policy makers can make an educated stab at doing the
right thing as far as sustainable tourism is concerned and it is working very well,”