So despite the fact that my last update was dated September and I have completely disregarded this blog... I have been hard at work and am happy to share.
Since the last post, the scope of what I'm up to has taken a bit of a twist... so here's the latest:
My Master in Tourism Administration from George Washington University made me quite the connoseiur and lover of Destination Management Organizations (DMO in tourism geek slang). I've been given the task of seeing one of these through - and pretty much making it successful. To be honest, I came in thinking it would be a piece of cake...ummm THINK AGAIN.
And because things get complicated by the second, the DMO isnt exactlly called that in this case - its a CLUSTER, the Cluster Turistico de La Romana-Bayahibe to be precise. Essentially an organization whose purpose is to group together all destination stakeholders (hotels, restaurants, dive shops, guide associations, etc) and make sure they are working together towards a common goal - in our case we want them to work towards SUSTAINABLE TOURISM (tourism that keeps in mind the environmental, community and economic wellbeing of the destination).
The destination spans a relatively large area along the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic. Here are some pictures that give you the gist of whats in it:
The Cluster (CTRB) has been in the process of getting its act together since 2003. Like it, there are 8 other Clusters in the DR...pretty much they are all trying to work towards the same thing within their own destinations. It wasn't till 2008 that the CTRB got legalized. And what I am trying to do is work with this one so that it serves as a model for the other 8...
I realized my task was going to be pretty daunting when I came on board last August and it had not a single member or money to get rolling.
Since then, I've developed a Membership Program that provides a structure for all destination stakeholders to formally be part of the CTRB, I've helped set up 2 Visitor Centers, organize events, supported small and medium sized tourism businesses (particularly artisans), supported the creation of a destination website, given courses and trainings, and a bunch of other things that I can't even keep up with. In summary, I've been all over the place.
Right now, I'm trying to keep focused on strengthening the CTRB, making sure it has a good membership base, a good strategy for financial sustainability, and that benefits that it offers (including the services at the Visitor Centers) are in place.
Of course, all of this being done because at the end of the day it would be great to see a destination whose stakeholders work together and are able to keep sustainable tourism at the forefront of the vision for the destination's future.
This may all sound idealistic... I realize that. But in the midst of negativism and repetedly listening to the words "It can't be done" , someone has to be a visionary and keep positive right?
Call me young, naive, unrealistic.... but is there a problem with setting ambitious goals and plowing through to make them happen???
Will keep you posted on progress...
Saludos from the DR!
Sorry for the typo's...spell check isnt working :)