Counterpart International, the Washington DC-based development NGO, praises the recent achievements of Caribbean Hotelier of the Year, Berthia Parle, as a victory for women from small island and developing nations.
Speaking to reporters following a visit to Europe, Mr. Lelei LeLaulu, president of the 38 year-old development organisation, said he was elated to learn that St. Lucian Parle received the regional hotelier award and was elected President of the San Juan-based Caribbean Hotel Association - the first woman to lead the regional body.
Berthia Parle`s combination of brains, grace and style is extraordinary, and we`re looking forward to seeing the magic that she will weave for the peoples of the Caribbean during her two year-presidency when it begins next June,” said LeLaulu. He noted that Parle has undoubtedly added lustre to the ranks of eminent Caribbean women who have made their mark, such as former Dominica Prime Minister Dame Eugenia Charles, Caribbean-American Shirley Chisholm (the first Black woman elected to US Congress), St. Lucia`s Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy, and the late Dame Nita Barrow, former Governor General of Barbados.
LeLaulu said Berthia has played a major role in educating Caribbean people - especially young girls and women - about women`s empowerment and gender equality issues. He also hailed her unwavering support of the Counterpart-sponsored series of media symposia (Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism - CMEx) which encourage and arm Caribbean reporters and editors to educate the region about the importance of sustainable tourism development.
Speaking on New York radio (1190 AM WLIB), Parle, who also serves as president of the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association, said of her accolades: “I think I have done it for all small islands and the Caribbean in particular, not to mention the women of this region who for years have toiled and are trying to make a difference to ensure that all people benefit from this very vital industry.”
The general manager of Bay Gardens Hotel in St. Lucia, Parle is heartened by the number of young people in the Caribbean who are taking up tourism studies and investigating careers in the sector. “Tourism is no longer an expatriate industry and a number of students are now seeing that there are other careers within the industry, besides a waiter, housekeeper or maid. We now have hundreds of career opportunities. With the advent of technology, the internet and spa vacations, the industry is ... much more attractive.”
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