Last week I was privileged to give grateful thanks to a room filled with tourism industry players for an award in memory of the meritorious and productive life of the late Caribbean public relations professional and diplomat Marcella Martinez.
How humbling to be included in the list of professionals recognized for their work by receiving the 2012 Marcella Martinez Award which honors one of Jamaica’s most accomplished daughters.
The Jamaica Tourist Board, fittingly, makes the awards during Caribbean Week in New York where the late Ms. Martinez made her mark as a diplomat and as a brilliant promoter of the charms of her homeland. The celebrations are hosted by the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
The Award, first presented in 2005, honors individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to the strengthening of marketing programs of Caribbean destinations. These individuals were singled out because of their work with the region’s communities. The awardees were also selected for displaying continuing and diligent support for the region’s cultural values and heritage.
While I am still surprised I would be included in such august company, I have reflected on the Jamaican public relations pioneer’s passionate and visionary approach to promoting Caribbean tourism and the important issues which remain a beacon for those of us who follow in her significant steps.
Marcella Martinez was a trailblazer who enjoyed mainstream success, yet believed in the importance of the Caribbean Diaspora and fought to get us a seat at the tourism high table. She also mentored young professionals and helped cultivate our skills, talent and abilities.
It was a singular honor for me to receive this award in her memory, and I resolve to continue working hard and smart to deliver results for the Caribbean region whether though my Marketplace Excellence public relations practice, the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism, or this column here in the New York Amsterdam News.
Also in the honors column was my friend and colleague Janet Silvera who captured the prestigious Marcia Vickery-Wallace Memorial Award for excellence in journalism.
The 25-year old award is given to a journalist who has followed in the footsteps of the late Vickery-Wallace who was the former editor of Brides Magazine. She was committed to promoting tourism in the Caribbean region.
Silvera noted: “The hospitality industry encapsulates the full spectrum of the Caribbean experience, merging economics, culture, food and entertainment.” She thinks “focusing on tourism journalism is so important, because it shines a light which goes beyond the surface frills of sunshine, sea and sand, and makes investigative forays into the drivers of the industry, putting into context the social and economic pillars which underpin, and depend on, the sector.”
Congratulations to Janet for her tireless work in the journalism profession and many thanks to the Jamaica Tourist Board for recognizing us both.