The presentation was made by the Jamaica Tourist Board’s Deputy Director of Tourism Donnie Dawson during the joint Caribbean Tourism Organization/Jamaica Tourist Board Allied Members luncheon in New York, Friday, held as part of Caribbean Week in New York activities.
Established in 2004, the Marcella Martinez Award is presented annually for unparalleled achievement in the design and implementation of successful programs to strengthen and support Caribbean tourism. The award is named in honour of Jamaican Marcella Martinez who dedicated her extraordinary career as a public relations professional to the promotion of tourism to the Caribbean.
Neysha Soodeen has been showcasing the Caribbean to an international readership for 15 years through MACO Caribbean Living as well as MACO Destinations, a magazine which she launched in 2003 to feature the Caribbean from a holistic perspective.
Last year, Soodeen launched a Caribbean travel portal promoting the best of the best of Caribbean destinations.
Dawson described Soodeen as an embodiment “of the spirit behind this award. And those who know her, know that her passion for the region is consummate, resulting in her business venture which showcases the sophisticated side of the Caribbean.”
Soodeen is the architect of Toute Bagai Publishing which publishes MACO Caribbean Living, the Caribbean’s first regionally-distributed retail magazine focusing on architecture, cuisine and travel. The publication also became the first Caribbean-produced magazine to be distributed internationally at major booksellers such as Barnes & Noble, Borders, WHSmith, Chapters and Indigo.
Soodeen has guided the growth of Toute Bagai Publishing which has produced a broad spectrum of magazines and coffee table books, including the official Sandals Resorts International in-room magazine, as well as other Caribbean tourism publications.
Her latest endeavour is a Caribbean APP company, using her 15 years of content in the Caribbean to place on interactive portals, and downloadable on all smartphones.
Accepting the award, the Caribbean publisher said after living away from the Caribbean for many years, she realised the Caribbean was known simply as a tourism destination, and those away from the region lacked the appreciation of how “we lived, what we ate and how we played.”
She added “the sophisticated side of the Caribbean was a well hidden secret and I wanted to expose that and launched MACO in 1999. After that, in 2003, I launched my second magazine Destinations, in Jamaica, and thus I feel an affinity to the island and its people. I am honoured to be the recipient of this prestigious award.”