(Blackstone Consultants)

Tourism consultants

Our Company


Blackstone Corporation Resource Management & Tourism Consultants was formed in 1991 by its two partners, Sally Davidson (B.A., M.A., M.C.P.) and Barbara Lamb (B.E.S., M.Sc.). Our mission is to assist public and private sector clients in Canada and globally to integrate stakeholders’ interests into project and programme design and implementation. Our work in Canada and in over 40 countries on five continents has demonstrated that strategic, cost-effective investment in the “people aspects “of a project can yield exponential dividends for our clients, as well as benefits for their employees and supply chains,  other affected stakeholders, and local communities.
Our clients have employed our Stakeholder-Centered Social Sciences Practice for projects such as social analyses, socio-economic impact assessments, stakeholder engagement programmes, indigenous peoples studies, community needs studies and investment strategies, etc..  This work has covered a very wide spectrum of sectors including, among others:   urban planning; tourism; transportation; energy; social infrastructure (water, sanitation, housing); solid waste management; agriculture and rural development; cadastre; education; health; oil and gas; and mining.   We have developed highly specialized rapid appraisal techniques over the years that enables us to provide our clients with high value-added for their investments in social analysis and stakeholder engagement.
IN addition to our social analysis practice, our specialized people-centered approach is a central part of our Sustainability Planning and Reporting PracticeWe offer a first-class team of senior experts who are specialists in planning, social sciences, financial analysis, economics, environmental sciences, energy, and health and safety.
Blackstone also has a world-classTourism and Hospitality Practice that is supported by our multi-sectoral team.    This highly successful part of our business is focused on the development of sustainable and responsible tourism for both public and private sector clients.  We are specialists in international tourism market analysis and demand forecasting, and have developed advanced, specialized methodologies to respond to the needs of a market-driven tourism industry.
Our clients include national and municipal governments; international donor agencies (World Bank; Inter-American Development Bank; Asian Development Bank; CIDA); private sector and NGOs.
Our offices include our head office in Toronto, Canada, and Branch Offices in La Paz, Bolivia, and Sofia, Bulgaria.

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Our Associates

Blackstone’s Associates comprise, with our two partners, a team of highly experienced senior consultants who work together on a range of assignments.  The team is able to work in English, Spanish, French, Bulgarian and Russian:
  • Dotcho Mihailov, Ph.D – Senior Social Scientist; Manager, Eastern Europe and Central Asia
  • Michel Filion, M.A. – Facilitator, Project Management Specialist
  • Janette  Simbron,B.A., M.A. – Senior Tourism Specialist; Manager, Blackstone Operations, Latin America



Janette Simbron has a strong background both in the social sciences and in tourism.  Blackstone retained Janette to act as Project Manager for its multi-disciplinary assignment to develop a large tourism loan between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Bolivia.   As a result of the considerable success of that sensitive and complex project, which successfully led to a $20 million loan agreement, Janette was assigned to head up Blackstone’s operations in Latin America, resident in La Paz.

Janette’s education includes a B.A. (Psychology) from the University of Chicago and a Masters of Anthropology (Belgium).   She has worked in the tourism sector for more than 20 years, and is the owner of a highly successful receptive tour operator firm and a hotel.  Janette is also part of a private sector network consisting of the top tour operators operating in and around Bolivia, and has extensive knowledge of tourism trends, markets and products throughout South America. She is very knowledgeable about the social and economic challenges facing rural communities. Janette regularly travels to European trade and travel shows, and has an extensive international network in the hospitality industry.

DOTCHO MIHAILOV, Ph.D –  Senior Social Scientist and Manager, Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Dotcho Mihailov is a highly experienced social scientist, with an M.Sc. in social psychology and Ph.D. in Social and Management Psychology.   Proprietor of ASA (Agency for Socioeconomic Analysis) in Sofia, Bulgaria, Dotcho is a Senior Blackstone Associate and Manager of Blackstone’s operations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.  Dotcho began working with our firm in 2003, when he was retained to carry out quantitative surveys throughout Bulgaria associated with Blackstone’s World Bank assignment on “The Economic and Social Impacts of Farm Restructuring in Central and Eastern Europe”. His work included a business survey and a regional survey in three districts among a sample of 598 households and 57 Farmers.   The Blackstone team’s work was highly regarded, and results were published in a World Bank monograph titled “A Stocktaking of Land Reform and Farm Restructuring in Bulgaria, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan.” Most recently, Dotcho was retained to work with Blackstone on our major projects for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank, undertaking field investigations of private sector company activities in China, Africa and Turkey with a view to assessing company/community relations and providing these international agencies with suggestions regarding a planned update to their  Performance Standards and Safeguards.

Dotcho has extensive experience working in Eastern Europe on social analysis assignments for the UN, an array of international agencies and government agencies.  He has particularly strong skills related to quantitative social surveys and analysis, using computerized tools such as SPSS.

With his strong credentials, and able to work in English, Russian,  Macedonian and Bulgarian, Dotcho  is well-suited to manage Blackstone’s assignments in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.


Michel Filion Is a Peru-based Associate of Blackstone with broad facilitation and project management expertise tin over 20 countries.   In 2010, Michel worked with Blackstone on a nine-country evaluation initiative that included his work in Peru, Senegal, Guatemala and Nicaragua. This initiative involved extensive stakeholder engagement, including focus groups and other techniques, to determine, from the perspective of affected stakeholders, the extent of private sector compliance with performance standards in relation to mining, cement production and agricultural enterprises.
A native French speaker, as well as being fluent in English and Spanish, Michel has worked extensively in francophone countries of Africa, as well as the Caribbean. Among others, he was, for 2 years (2003-2005), the Director of Programming for the Canadian University Services Overseas (CUSO) in Haiti.

Our Tourism Services

Strategic and Master Planning:  Successful tourism industries grow from well thought out and responsive strategies and plans.  We work closely with our clients to determine what their needs are, what decisions they need to make to ensure success, what information they need, and how they can achieve their goals.

Market Demand AnalysisTourism is fundamentally market driven. “If we build it, they will come” – once the status quo approach to tourism development – no longer applies. In today’s highly competitive world, primary market research is essential.   To protect our public and private sector clients’ investments, over the past 20 years Blackstone has developed sophisticated yet cost-effective market research tools:
·     Blackstone’s Tour Operators Perceptions Surveys (TOPS©) include detailed personal interviews with tour operators who are specifically selected for each project, to determine up-to-date market preferences and attitudes towards a particular destination.  As a result, we are able to offer leading-edge analysis of global tourism market trends of direct relevance to our clients;
·    Blackstone’s Tourism Statistical Analysis (TSA) goes beyond government-cited statistics that are often misleading.  Typically, visits by business travelers, people visiting friends and relatives (VFRs), and actual bonafide tourists are aggregated into national visitation statistics. Use of these figures as “tourism statistics” from which to calculate future demand can lead to highly inaccurate projections .  At Blackstone, we undertake detailed research to determine how many actual tourists are selecting destinations or attractions, to provide a sound basis for highly informed decision-making.
Tourism Product Development: Development of tourism products – that combination of elements which define the whole travel experience, including access, services, attractions, programs, etc. – needs to be carried out with an understanding of a complex array of key considerations. These considerations include, for example, differentiation, providing value for the dollar, theming/packaging, and ensuring excellent service.  Lack of attention to any one of these key elements risks failure or realization of sub-optimal results.  We offer a creative, original approach to TPD;
Matching Grants and Revolving Funds: We have prepared detailed operational designs for both matching grants and revolving funds to support community members to obtain the benefits of tourism while offering marketable tourism products and services.
Linkages Studies and Strategies:  Tourism is an industry that is inextricably linked with other sectors, including transportation, other economic sectors, water and sanitation, energy, waste management and others.  We conduct detailed analyses of these linkages and how to strengthen them.
Marketing Strategies:  Tourism marketing today must be multi-dimensional – web-based, involving a strong network of contacts/partners/operators etc., and based on sound market research. Our team includes a highly experienced tourism planner who is also a tour operator and hotel owner, with first-hand experience about what works and what doesn’t “on the ground”;
Economic Impact and Financial Feasibility Analyses: Economic assessments are often a key part of a client’s evaluation related to investments in tourism.  Our economists and hospitality experts have developed economic impact models that have been applied to project income, expenses, return on investment, payback periods, etc..   We have carried out many financial feasibility analyses for the hospitality industry, employing, for example, the detailed Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI), which is widely considered to be the standard for financial reporting for lodging-industry operators.
Due Diligence: Earning a social license to operate and demonstrating a high level of corporate social responsibility are important to our clients. We are GRI (Global Reporting Initiative)-certified and support ISO 26000 Social Responsibility. We can help our private sector clients, in particular, to fulfill their due diligence and report on achievement of sustainability benchmarks, cost-effectively.