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In Memory of Chrystel Cancel

  • whl.travel
  • 13 February 2010

On 8 February, the body of Chrystel Cancel was positively identified, nearly a month after the devastating earthquakes in Haiti levelled the Hotel Montana on top of her. She had only had just arrived in Port-au-Prince. We pay tribute to her here because she was a trusted part of our family.

Chrystel Cancel

Chrystel Cancel grew up in Toulouse, France. After earning both a Bachelors and Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Toulouse, Chrystel graduated from the University of Paris in 1999 with another Masters in Political Science, specialising in developing countries. A passion for travel, adventure and international development led her to Washington, DC, where she obtained a Masters in Tourism Administration from the George Washington University in 2006.

Chrystel spent the majority of her career as a dedicated sustainable tourism consultant leaving her lasting legacy on a variety of projects around the world.

We will never be able to give voice to the thousands of people Chrystel touched, both directly and indirectly. We hope that a few short remarks from some of the people with whom she worked will impart a sense of her spirit, her character… and the empty space we now feel in her absence.

See below for short tributes to Chrystel from:

Chrsytel leaves behind her parents, a brother and her fiancé. Shortly after the earthquake and loss of contact with Chrystel, her fiancé travelled to Haiti to add his hands to the search for her, a heartbreaking story told in an interview with NPR.

George Washington University has devoted a special page to the memory of Chrystel.

Chrystel’s friends have also created a Facebook page through which feelings, thoughts, memories and pictures of her can be shared.

Chrystel’s remains, now back in France, will be interred in Pamiers cemetery of the village of Escosse on 13 February at 4pm local time.

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WHL Group logoFrom Len Cordiner, CEO of the WHL Group, on behalf of the extended WHL Group network:

My first contact with Chrystel was a coffee we arranged in Washington, DC, late one afternoon around three years ago. Chrystel was doing some work for the World Bank at the time and was keen to learn more about the WHL Group, having had an introduction through Zachary Rozga and Jodi McKeeman to our consulting activities in Africa.

The coffee stretched out to becoming a dinner as Chrystel explored possibilities for doing more business together. Subsequently I met Chrystel on several DC trips, where each time she briefed me on what she was up to and introduced me to people she thought would be interested in what we were doing. Not only did Chrystel share our vision for a more sustainable future for travel, she wanted to be part of the journey.

Chrystel CancelBefore long she teamed up with her friend Sandrine-Pia Casto to become Tucaya Panama, the whl.travel franchisee in Panama. Not long after launching this site, Chrystel and Sandrine had their first blog article up highlighting the special work being done Supporting Local and Responsible Travel on Panama’s Gobernadora Island.

The last time I met with Chrystel was in August 2009 in Brazil at the WHL Group regional meeting for the Americas. As always, Chrystel was busy networking and bring to my attention all those franchisees she felt were doing exceptional things, as well as ideas she had for how we could do things better.

In fact after that meeting she started working actively to build a new program in the whl.travel network, where we would give more prominence to the local community and environmental projects our franchisees were driving. She was very keen to run a competition amongst franchisees in the whl.travel network to surface the best examples of local social entrepreneurship. In her last communication to the project team in December, she wanted to get things underway but said she was going to be busy in Haiti in January… so it would have to wait.

We will all miss her very much.

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whlc_logoFrom Zachary Rozga, CEO of WHL Consulting

Chrystel was a good friend and an important colleague to WHL Consulting. Jodi McKeeman and I, cofounders of WHL Consulting, first met Chrystel while in graduate school at George Washington University, where we all studied sustainable tourism development together.

After graduation, Jodi and I left for Africa and Chrystel made her way to London, but we remained in touch. In January 2008, WHL Consulting landed a project with the government of Lesotho, which was the nexus of the Market Access Program. The problem was that none of the materials that were promised for the Market Access Training Seminars had been developed. So Jodi and I convinced Chrystel to come help us create material and then deliver the courses in Lesotho.

Those two months that Chrystel spent with us in Africa were some of the most random and wild months we had in our entire 3.5 years in Africa. Just a few of the highlights: we got stuck on a plane with the Prime Minister of Lesotho, Jodi and Chrystel danced with the King and Queen and we were invited for a VIP wine tasting in the laboratory with the owner of the largest wine farm in the Cape Winelands. More recently Chrystel was slated to begin working with WHL Consulting on the rollout of our pilot program with the MIF IDB.

She will be sorely missed. Every time we run a Market Access Training Seminar, we will most definitely pay tribute to Chrystel Cancel.

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logo-solimar-internationalFrom Simon Jones, Vice President of Solimar International on behalf of the whole Solimar family

During 2009, Chrystel tirelessly led Solimar’s initiative to develop the Bocas Sustainable Tourism Alliance in Panama, a destination management organization and tourism information center dedicated to promoting Bocas del Toro’s natural and cultural attractions and an organization that will promote Chrystel’s passion for community-run sustainable tourism long into the future.

In January 2010, Chrystel was part of a team deployed to Haiti to assess the tourism opportunities and needs in the north of the country in an effort to promote greater economic opportunities for Haitians. She died dedicated to improving the lives of others and making this world a better place for us all.

Chrystel resided in Panama City, Panama, and was a valuable member and friend of the Solimar team. Her legacy will be remembered, but she will be missed by all that knew her.

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logo-tucayaFrom Sandrine-Pia Casto, General Manager of Tucaya Panama

One of the Tucayettes is not physically with us anymore. A passionate, restless worker, persevering and patient – all those things could be said about Chrystel Cancel. The projects she was involved with and those she wanted to pursue make this world a better place. The last thing we need is to let lights like her extinguish. We will try our best to carry on her legacy and with the spirit she has left at Bocas and Gobernadora Island. Chrystel, you won’t be forgotten.

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Caribbean, Haiti, human interests, natural disasters, North America, opinion, WHL Group news,

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