The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has assembled a compelling list of industry experts to address ways the region can respond to challenges posed to its sustainability by realities such as climate change, changes to consumer consciousness and shifts in consumer demands and purchasing preferences.
The speakers of various backgrounds and expertise will also the opportunities presented by through the creation of new, varied, and innovative tourism experiences using the natural and man-made assets of Caribbean society, at the Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The CTO has confirmed Elizabeth “Liz” Thompson, Barbados’ ambassador to the United Nations, as the keynote speaker, for the 26-29 Aug. 2019 event, otherwise known as the Sustainable Tourism Conference (#STC2019), at the Beachcombers Hotel. Ms. Thompson will set the context for the conference in her address scheduled for 9:10 a.m. – 9:40 a.m. on 27 August.
The following is the line-up of presenters for the various sessions:
General Session I – Development Models for Social Integration (27 Aug from 9:45 a.m. – 11 a.m.): attention will be focused on the integration of local and indigenous grassroots initiatives as key pillars of the region’s cultural richness and diversity, with emphasis on the generation of employment opportunities for local communities. Speakers include:
• Hayden Billingy is the moderator of the panel and will provide an introductory presentation. He is an environmental consultant from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and has worked for multiple international multilateral and academic organisations. He is currently the national project coordinator for Climate Change Adaptation of the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector (CC4FIAH).
• Dr. K’adamawe K’nife will be addressing social entrepreneurship during the session. He holds a PhD in sustainable development and a master’s degree in economics. Dr. K’nife is a lecturer and researcher in the Mona School of Business and Management at the University of the West Indies (UWI) where he is also the director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Thinking and Practice (CETP).
• Gabriella Stowell will be speaking about “boosting the product” and is the Latin America regional director for Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA). Desirous of learning more about the different ecosystems of Brazil, Stowell moved to Santa Catarina state to work at an eco resort where she created its adventure department and was responsible for the guest activities and the sustainability program.
• Tasheka Haynes-Bobb will highlight “funding integration initiatives.” Haynes-Bobb is the programme coordinator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Environmental Finance (GEF) small grants programme.
General Session II – Community Based Tourism – Driving Innovation and Experiences (27 Aug from 11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.): delegates will be presented with robust market research that encapsulates visitors’ willingness to pay for innovative tourism experiences across the Caribbean. The session will also delve into how community tourism supports product diversification and differentiation and can enhance community participation in tourism, with the ultimate benefit being the creation of a distinctive and responsible tourism brand. Speakers for the panel are:
• Annie Bertrand, coordinator for Pillar 1 – Competitiveness and Innovation for Compete Caribbean, will provide the market research conducted by Compete Caribbean in her presentation “Cooperation for Development – Engaging the CTO.” Bertrand has 12 years of business and international development experience in over 65 countries as a management consultant and social entrepreneur.
• Judy Karwacki is the founder and president of Small Planet Consulting, a Vancouver, Canada-based tourism consultancy and is partner in a successful travel agency for 33 years. An expert in destination tours and activities development and marketing, especially locally-hosted experiences, she works with environmentally and culturally vulnerable destinations around the world, including about 20 Caribbean countries. With her expertise with in-destination tours and activities, she will be addressing “Community-based Tourism 101 – Here is your Toolkit.”
• Marco Antonio Verde, consultant for Latin America in business development for EuroMonitor International Ltd., will speak about “Market Research Findings: What Do Visitors Want and How Much Will They Pay?”
General Session III – Host Country Showcase – Energise (27 Aug from 2:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.): This session is an opportunity for St. Vincent and the Grenadines to share its sustainability story, showcase the diversity of its tourism product and experiences and illustrate its unique selling points. The focus spans key initiatives in product development, marketing innovations and sustainable tourism in practice.
• Bianca Porter, moderator of the panel and chairperson of the SVGTA board of directors.
• Ellsworth Dacon, director of energy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, brings over 19 years of experience within the field of energy to the energy unit. Dacon has a wide background in implementing energy policies and procedures within the governmental and public sectors.
• Janeel Findlay-Miller is the director of environmental management for the government of St. Vincent the Grenadines.
• Thornley Myers is the chief executive officer for St. Vincent the Grenadines Electricity Services.
• Herman Belmar is the deputy director of Grenadines affairs for the government of SVG.
General Session IV – Indigenous Conversations – Celebrating Our Past, Embracing Our Future (27 Aug from 3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.) The session will look at the changing composition of local livelihoods and demonstrate how the region’s indigenous people have a tangible role and stake in the Caribbean tourism value chain. Indigenous communities are utilising tourism markets to embrace expanded entrepreneurial opportunities, adding new dimensions to their sources of income, and create niches that are increasingly sought after.
• Dr. Zoila Ellis Browne, head of the Garifuna Heritage Foundation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is the moderator. She is committed to the development of her indigenous heritage and volunteers as technical programme consultant to the foundation, a Vincentian non-governmental organisation promoting Garifuna heritage and culture. A magistrate by profession, Dr. Browne has worked with OXFAM (UK) as its deputy regional representative in the Eastern Caribbean and has served as consultant on issues related to law, women and development and environmental law in her native Belize and the wider Caribbean.
• Uwahnie Melenie Martinez is an eco-cultural entrepreneur and director of Palmento Grove Eco-Cultural Fishing Institute in Belize, a private island retreat owned and operated by local Garifuna people. She focuses on implementing a sustainable master plan which revolves around profits for preservation and conservation along with progressive non-profit project initiatives.
• Rudolph Edwards is the toshao (chief) of Rewa village in Guyana, a small Amerindian community of about 300 people, mostly from the Makushi tribe, who founded the Rewa Eco-Lodge in 2005 in an effort to protect their land for generations to come. Edwards will be discussing “From Depletion to Conservation – Tourism Made it Viable.”
• Chris Cal, the owner and operator of The Living Maya Experience, a home visit that offers guests a fascinating glimpse into a disappearing world, will speak about “Conserving the Mayan heritage and lifestyle.”
• Colonel Marcia “Kim” Douglas is the colonel of the Charles Town Maroon Community. As leader and spokesperson for one of the several maroon communities in Jamaica, Col. Douglas stands as the first woman to occupy any such position of authority among them in the present day. Col. Douglas is committed to the retention and promotion of all that signifies and portrays maroons and their heritage and sees this as a critical component of the sustainability of the community and is especially devoted to the children and young people of the community.
General Session V – The Caring Economy: People, Planet and Profits (29 Aug from 9:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.): During this general session, participants will be presented with examples of tangible best practices of equitable balance among the three Ps of sustainability that have been implemented at the local, regional and international levels. The presenters will demonstrate how development planners can build a caring economy that encompasses every sustainability pillar.
• Gail Henry, the deputy director of tourism product development at Cayman Islands department of tourism, will make an introductory presentation and serve as the panel’s moderator. Henry is responsible for leading the tourism product development unit to ensure that the quality of the visitor experience meets or exce visitors’ expectations.
• Joy Jibrilu will be speaking on “The People to People Experience – Caring the Bahamian Way.” She is the director general of the Bahamas ministry of tourism where she has served since 2014. Prior to that, she served as the director of investments in the Bahamas Investment Authority, office of the prime minister where she was responsible for negotiating heads of agreements for the major touristic developments.
• Paloma Zapata is the chief executive officer of Sustainable Travel International and will address “Leveraging Sustainability to Enhance Profitability.” With over 15 years of experience in sustainable tourism and economic development, Zapata has designed and implemented impactful initiatives and projects in 25 nations across the globe.
• Seleni Matus will discuss ‘The Health of Caribbean Tourism Destinations.” She is the executive director of International Institute of Tourism Studies at George Washington University. Matus has more than 15 years designing and directing large, multi-stakeholder initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean that have enhanced the quality of tourism offerings and helped to ensure the long-term health of natural ecosystems.
General Session VI – Transformation for Tourism Evolution (29 Aug from 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.): This session takes a critical look at new opportunities to regenerate the regional tourism industry in the areas of market access, disaster recovery and climate resilience as a means of increasing tourism competitiveness and sustainability.
• Kieran St. Omer, research officer, strategic planning and projects, Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), will speak to the topic of “Opportunities and Threats from a Move Toward Digital Currency.” She is an experienced policy analyst and capital market professional who has worked in various capacities within the financial services industry from 2007. She has extensive knowledge in investor relations and marketing.
• Hon. Camillo Gonsalves is the minister of foreign affairs in St. Vincent the Grenadines.
General Session VII – Conservation Matters: Nurturing our Nature (29 Aug from 1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.): This session will demonstrate the viability of crafting alternative paths to realising tourism potential, without compromising value and benefits for future generations.
• Vincent Sweeney, the head of the Caribbean sub-regional office, United Nations’ (UN) Environment, will speak about going plastic free for 2020. He has served for 10 years as executive director of the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute and has extensive experience with water utilities in the Caribbean and in private consulting firms.
General Session VIII – Stakeholders Speak Out (29 Aug from 3:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.): This session is an open forum where delegates can share their views, debate hot button issues and discuss disruptions and trends reshaping the tourism industry.
• Glen Beache is the chief executive officer of SVGTA.
• Dr. Jerrold Thompson is the chief
• Kim Halbich is the president of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Hotel and Tourism Association (SVGHTA) and has worked in the hospitality industry for over 28 years. Halbich is committed to being a force for positive change as she works to preserve and promote the natural and cultural heritage of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. executive officer of the Medicinal Cannabis Authority.
Author: Chief Assignment Editor
Chief Assignment Duty Editor based in Honolulu