Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI) Announces New Director General

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 25, 2011

CONTACT:

Susan Wolf
Communications Manager
(415) 834-0900 ext. 319


Playa del Carmen, November 25, 2011
 - The Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI) is pleased to welcome Thomas Meller, an expert in environmental tourism operations, sustainable hotel management, and conservation planning, as its newly appointed director general.

Established in 2006, MARTI is a joint initiative of the Coral Reef Alliance, Amigos de Sian Ka’an, the Riviera Maya Hotel Association, the Rainforest Alliance, Grupo Intersectorial, and Sustainable Travel International. MARTI works with private, public, and civil groups-throughout the Mexican Caribbean-to implement effective environmental best practices that reduce negative tourism impacts on the marine environment. In his new leadership role, Thomas is tasked with creating new opportunities to deepen the organization’s engagement with marine recreation providers, cruise ships, hotels, and hotel developers throughout the region.

“In five years, MARTI has become the most important sustainable tourism initiative in the Mesoamerican Reef region,” said Thomas Meller. “I am thrilled to serve as MARTI’s first director general. I look forward to integrating the individual strengths and expertise of our six partners to build an even stronger initiative that will achieve our vision-transforming tourism into a force for biodiversity conservation and sustainable community development.”

Thomas brings to this new role over eighteen years of experience managing and implementing environmental projects. While working with the United Nations Development Programme in Jamaica, he managed the UN’s extensive environmental project portfolio, including the 2.3 million USD Typhoid Control and Prevention Program, which among other things improved wastewater treatment infrastructure in the Savanna la Mar area.

After completing his postgraduate studies in environmental management at the University of Applied Economics in Berlin, he returned to Jamaica to put his skills to use improving environmental practices within the island’s expanding hotel industry. In 2000, he relocated to the Mexican Caribbean where he provided environmental hotel management consulting services as part of USAID’s Quintana Roo sustainable tourism project. During this time, he helped the first hotel in Mexico to achieve Green Globe certification, which at the time was considered the travel industry’s prime international standard for sustainability.

Over the past five years, Thomas has served as MARTI’s director of hotel development and operations within Amigos de Sian Ka’an, a Cancun-based nonprofit working for the conservation of the Mexican Caribbean’s ecosystems. During this time, Thomas developed MARTI’s environmental best practices guidelines and concluded his assignment with the publication of the initiative’s Sustainable Planning, Design, and Construction Guide for the Mexican Caribbean.

“Thomas holds an impressive depth of organizational knowledge and qualifications that make him the ideal candidate for this position,” said Rick MacPherson, Conservation Programs Director of the Coral Reef Alliance, a founding partner of MARTI. “Thomas co-developed many of the tools we use in the field today to advance the initiative and has been instrumental in brokering key relationships within the tourism industry. He has his finger on the pulse of the Mesoamerican landscape and is well-positioned to take this group to the next level.”

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About the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative
The Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI) is a joint initiative working to ensure that the breath-taking natural resources that draw millions of tourists to the Mesoamerican Reef region each year are maintained and enhanced for the benefit of current and future generations. Visit www.mesoamericanreef.org.

About the Coral Reef Alliance
The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) is an international non-profit organization that unites communities to save coral reefs. By providing education, tools, and inspiration that help local communities become passionate stewards of their reefs, CORAL is building a worldwide network of well-managed marine protected areas and sustainable businesses that benefit both coral reefs and people. CORAL’s innovative programs and effective strategies reduce local threats and build reef resilience to climate change. Visit www.coral.org or call 1-888-CORAL-REEF.