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Staying in Haiti, The Right Choice
The Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx) saluted one of the largest and most successful lodging franchisers in the world for redoubling its commitment to Haiti after the recent deadly earthquake. Responding to an announcement by Choice Hotels International that it will not be pulling out of Haiti, CMEx Director Lelei LeLaulu hailed the news as "a strong, positive and optimistic message to send to the international travel and tourism market and the investment community. It is also a booming vote of confidence in the resilience and resourcefulness of the Haitian people."  Lelei LeLaulu
In January, Choice announced that a new Comfort Inn hotel and Ascend Collection member hotel would mark the first-ever Choice-brand properties for the nation of Haiti. "For obvious reasons, plans for both properties are on hold right now, but we are not pulling out of Haiti," a spokesman said.  LeLaulu, also co-chairman of the Innovation for Sustainable Development Center, commended Choice, a Fortune 500 company, for "affirming the unique and potent role the travel and hospitality industry can, and must, play in ensuring Haiti's recovery is sustainable."

Stephen P. Joyce, Choice's President and CEO, is rallying resources at the corporate and associate level to have a positive impact on the humanitarian and development efforts underway in Haiti both today and for the future, reminding his staffers that the Choice Hotels International Foundation will expeditiously match their donations to eligible not-for-profit organizations. The executive announced that as an organization, Choice made use of its vast distribution network and partnerships at the Kickoff To Rebuild community revitalization event in Miami on Thursday, February 4. According to Joyce, Choice worked with Rebuilding Together and The Steve Harvey Morning Show to use this national event as a collection and donation site, adding that Choice is currently exploring ways to provide immediate relief in the form of needed supplies, including water, food and other materials to its conversion property in Jacmel via qualified vendors and outside resources. While damaged, the building slated for the new hotel there is still standing.

This Comfort Inn hotel was set to open in 2010, becoming the first global hotel brand that the nation of Haiti has hosted in more than a decade. Choice's two Haiti hotels, including a new luxury Ascend Collection member hotel, were to be located in Haiti's historic township of Jacmel. The projects were underway in partnership with a group of Haitian-American investors. "Haiti needs all hands on deck at this time, and we look forward to more companies following Choice's example because tourism is the one industry which can, relatively quickly, speed the creation of jobs and the revival of business in this devastated but culturally rich nation," said LeLaulu.

The Caribbean Media Exchange provides a neutral platform for the continuing discussion of the key linkages between media, government, private sector and civil society in ensuring tourism enhances the health, environment, education, culture, and wealth of destinations in a climate-friendly fashion.