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John Beavers & Anneke Jensen

John Beavers & Anneke Jensen

John Beavers & Anneke Jensen

Tuesday, June 17, 2014. AARON HUMES Reporting: Belize is a popular site for bird-watching, but the Belize Audubon Society and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) believe it can become another product in the Belizean tourism package.

The bank has granted the National Audubon Society, based in the United States, a total of $2.6 million from the Multilateral Investment Fund to partner with local non-governmental organizations in Belize, Guatemala, Paraguay and the Bahamas to convert bird-watching into sustainable job creation in local communities.

Executive Director of Belize Audubon Society (BAS), Amanda Acosta says they will partner with the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) to make bird-based tourism a specialization for local tour guides, part of the tour guiding curriculum.

Representative of the National Audubon Society and its vice-president for international alliances, John Beavers, says that Belize, along with NGO’s from the Bahamas, Guatemala and Paraguay were chosen as being the countries having the most support and considered the best sites for promotion of bird tourism.

Belize in particular, he says, has many recognized species that people come to see.

And the IDB’s country representative, Anneke Jensen, says that the program falls in line with the IDB’s goal of fostering sustainable development and economic empowerment in its member countries.

Following an official reception on Monday, the kickoff meeting for the project began today, Tuesday, and continues through Thursday at the Radisson Hotel, with participation from representatives of all four countries including Minister of Tourism and Culture Manuel Heredia, Jr.

The meeting will agree on a bird guide training curriculum and hear presentations from those already involved, including local operator Lascelle Tillett of S&L Travel and Tours Company.

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