Posted: Thursday, March 23, 2023. 9:30 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Increasingly, in support of the tourism product, the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations has been contributing to fellow Ministries with projects that directly impact tourism destinations.
Minister Anthony Mahler listed several projects that outline why “tourism is a national priority,” continuing to represent 40 percent of GDP, and addressing key challenges, like water shortages in Placencia and Caye Caulker with which Belize Water Services Limited (BWS) is grappling. The Ministry had to intervene a few weeks ago with help for Placencia, which Mahler accused the Opposition of ignoring during its time in Government.
Health is another concern, and as Mahler explained, “When people go on vacation, they need to be reassured that if anything happens, their health needs can be taken care of.” Placencia has seen renovations of its municipal pier and a polyclinic serving the Peninsula is in its final stages. A polyclinic has been built in Caye Caulker while a full-fledged hospital, funded by Taiwan, is being developed for Ambergris Caye.
Roads to major destinations are being repaved by the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing including the Caracol and Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) road. Solutions are being searched for to address the “serious threat” posed by sargassum in coastal destinations, including looking abroad for solutions. This is linked to the increasing worldwide threat of climate change.
In the area of security, 20 new Tourism Police have been hired and headquarters expanded, and equipment provided, with substations established in North Ambergris Caye, Seine Bight in Stann Creek, and San Antonio in Cayo, with promises to buy more surveillance cameras for key tourism zones. Projects for growth and development in tourism will take place countrywide, including the first manatee rescue centre in Gales Point, Belize District being developed with noted conservationist Jamal Galves.
Questioning why Belizeans seem to treat their own country like a garbage dump while behaving themselves elsewhere, the Minister asked mischievous types to lay off the ongoing beautification project in Belize City and other destinations to reduce littering and vandalism.
The “orange economy” is being linked to tourism with plans being developed and recording studios being built in Dangriga and Cayo and completed in Orange Walk and Belize City. The Belize International Music and Food Festival will have its second annual event in the Old Capital and a fund will be established to fund future initiatives.
In the area of capacity building, the Minister announced plans for a Hospitality Training Academy to be developed with a major U.S. university and the Ministry of Education, alongside expanded training for tour guides and other tourism-related customer skills.
Belize continues to market itself with colourful splashes in New York City and London with the “Grab Life” campaign, as more celebrities and influencers visit and we made the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition for 2022.
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