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Protected areas stakeholders engage in sustainable tourism planning workshop

Posted: Thursday, July 6, 2023. 8:45 am CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: On July 5, 2023, the Belize Audubon Society (BAS), a co-manager of the Halfmoon Caye Natural Monument and Blue Hole Natural Monument organized an insightful workshop in collaboration with Shane Young, the Protected Areas Director, and Zoe Walker, a consultant from Wildtracks.

The workshop focused on the preservation and enhancement of these natural monuments, as well as the broader Lighthouse Reef Atoll seascape.

The BAS noted that the primary objective of the workshop was to recognize the economic, social, and environmental significance associated with tourism in the region.

Participants including tour operators from Turneffe Atoll, Dangriga and Hopkins worked together to develop strategies aimed at safeguarding and enhancing these identified values, thereby benefiting both tourism stakeholders and biodiversity conservation efforts.

The workshop was designed to actively engage participants in an open dialogue about the various thematic areas of concern related to the Lighthouse Reef Atoll.

“The Lighthouse Reef Atoll, renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, is a haven for divers and marine enthusiasts. With its crystal-clear turquoise waters, this magnificent atoll offers an unparalleled diving experience. Divers have the opportunity to explore vibrant coral reefs teeming with an astonishing array of marine life, including colorful tropical fish, magnificent coral formations, and intriguing underwater caves. The atoll is also home to majestic marine species such as nurse sharks, eagle rays, and hawksbill turtles, providing divers with unforgettable encounters and extraordinary photo opportunities,” the BAS said.

During the workshop, Zoe Walker, a seasoned consultant from Wildtracks, skillfully guided the stakeholders in identifying key values within the atoll and formulating effective strategies to protect and conserve the area.

These strategies aimed to cater to the needs of all users, including fishers, as well as tour operators from San Pedro and Caye Caulker who offer diving experiences within the atoll.

The BAS is a co-manager of the Half Moon Caye Natural Monument, Blue Hole Natural Monument and 5 other protected areas and expressed that it remains committed to promoting sustainable tourism practices and ensuring the long-term preservation of Belize’s natural heritage.

“By bringing together tourism stakeholders and fostering collaborative efforts, BAS continues to play a pivotal role in safeguarding the country’s pristine ecosystems and supporting the well-being of local communities,” the BAS expressed.


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