Author Archives: Lebawit Lily Girma

Lebawit Lily Girma is an award-winning travel journalist, photographer, and guidebook author specializing in the Caribbean region. Her work has been published in major travel publications, including CNN, AFAR, Delta Sky, Lonely Planet, Shermans Travel, and BBC, among others. A self-professed "culture-holic," Lily left her native Ethiopia at age one, fast developing a passion for the expat Caribbean life. In 2008, she ditched her US corporate law career for the road and created Sunshine and Stilettos—a travel photography blog showcasing authentic ways to experience the Caribbean, through culture and nature. Lily has since partnered with Caribbean tourism boards and travel brands on major content projects. She also authors print guidebooks on three destinations, including Belize, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. Read more on her site, LebawitGirma.com

Reinventing the Caribbean: Updates and Reflections on the State of The Industry Conference (SOTIC2018)

The view from my room at the Atlantis on Paradise Island, Nassau, host of the Caribbean’s 2018 SOTIC conference.

“It’s a time to reinvent ourselves.”

These words stuck with me at the close of SOTIC 2018. They came from St. Lucia’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Dominic Fedee. The newly elected chair of the Caribbean Tourism Organization was addressing a room full of media on the last day of the annual State of the Industry conference.

His words neatly summarized a recurring theme throughout the sessions at SOTIC on the current state of tourism in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean: a region famously marketed as a paradisiacal escape of blues, friendly people, and all inclusive resorts. Perhaps because of this image and brand, it’s a region where visitors still have difficulty distinguishing one island country or territory from the other. This was painfully obvious last year, when the twin category

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TravelCon 2018: On Longevity, Building Community, and the Art of Pivoting in the Travel Industry

The last time I attended and invested in a travel blogging conference was 2012. I know – seven years ago. Back then there was only TBEX, the Travel Blogging Exchange. Attending once was helpful, but it still left me with a sense of uncertainty when I returned home. What’s next? What to do with all this content and knowledge I have on Caribbean destinations? Is it worth continuing this travel photography and blogging thing?

I was on the brink – one of many we have as entrepreneurs – of deciding whether to continue or whether to switch paths.

And then I saw an email in my inbox from one of my blog readers – it reminds now of the power of community, one of the topics at TravelCon. She was alerting me to an ad from Moon Guides, searching for the next Moon Belize author. The requirements were that you had to be a travel writer with at least five clips, as well as someone who loves and knows the destination and returns often. Six years have passed since I read the email and

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