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( Paxton Baker, BET Networks’ Senior Executive, to be honored by Counterpart International in New York next month

WASHINGTON DC (August 9, 2007) – Caribbean tourism leaders are being encouraged by a renowned American television executive and a driving force behind attracting North American visitors to the region to aggressively pursue event-based tourism opportunities.

Paxton Baker, Executive Vice President of BET Digital Networks and President of BET Event Productions – who recently announced a SHOWTIME/ BET J partnership with St. Lucia to broadcast a live professional world class boxing event from the island – said that the events business is a proven generator of significant revenues and tourism arrivals for the Caribbean. He stressed that the Caribbean ought to remain focused on producing and hosting world class events.

Baker, who for more than a decade has produced music festivals across the Caribbean, asserted that the region was well placed now, “especially with the availability of brand new or upgraded venues which are now in place following this year's 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup."

International experts say ‘festival or events tourism’ – ranging from music concerts to sports events – is a growing market and a valuable marketing tool for tourism players in both the public and private sector. These events generate strong international visibility and allow tour operators and travel agents to introduce clients to new destinations.

Baker, who will receive the Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx) Cultural Award (which celebrates the achievements of individuals who have enhanced and revitalized the cultures of destinations) at Counterpart International's 2007 World Leadership Awards on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at Guastavino's in New York City, said Caribbean destinations ought “to capitalize on the economic benefits of events, not only because they fill airline seats and hotel rooms, but they support local entrepreneurs such as production suppliers, restaurateurs, club owners, transportation providers, vendors, musicians and artisans."

Baker said that BET J, BET and BET Event Productions remain committed to promoting the region's beauty, culture and history to international audiences, as well as supporting charitable efforts such as Counterpart's CMEx series of Caribbean meetings.

Since the purchase of Black Entertainment Television by Viacom in 2001, BET J (formerly BET Jazz) has been able to bring the resources of Viacom-owned properties to the table, providing access to such media giants as VH1, MTV, SHOWTIME, CBS, CBS Outdoor and CBS Radio. An example is the partnership between BET J, BET Event Productions, Showtime and the St. Lucia Tourist Board to stage, produce and broadcast international boxing in St. Lucia in November.

Baker added he was pleased to be sharing the spotlight with Counterpart's honorees who include Senator Allen Chastanet, chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization and St. Lucia's Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation; President Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Republic; David Finn, Founder and Chairman of Ruder Finn; and Caribbean carrier Air Jamaica.

"Paxton is right on target. At a time when arrivals are declining from traditional markets it is time to get these people back to the region by promoting cultural events," said Counterpart's President Lelei LeLaulu. “He is a true pioneer who has revitalized music and culture in the Caribbean, and his personal support of Counterpart programs and initiatives has had tremendous impact," LeLaulu added.

Counterpart International, founded in 1965, gives people a voice in their own future through smart partnerships, offering options and access to tools for sustained social, economic and environmental development. Operating on five continents, Counterpart is supported by the generosity of its corporate and individual donors, foundations, host countries, multilateral institutions and several U.S. government agencies.

For further information about the 2007 World Leadership Awards, visit

For further information about Counterpart International, visit

Source: Counterpart International
Contact: Bevan Springer + 1 201 861-2056
Photograph of Paxton Baker available at:

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