Shake-up at Belize Tourist Board! Two top positions will change hands
Friday, 06.11.2009, 08:53am (GMT-6)
By Homero Ayuso - The Reporter
An imminent shake-up in the top ranks of the Belize Tourist Board has been signalled by the Chairman of the Board, San Pedrano Gaspar Guerrero.
Mindful perhaps of the Belize Tourism Industry Association’s (BTIA) call back in May this year, “to do more” for the failing health of the industry, the Belize Tourist Board has made some changes that will chart a “new direction” for tourism in Belize.
The most striking step the BTB Board of Directors has taken is to inform the Executive Director of the BTB, Mrs. Tracy Taegar-Panton, and the Director of Finance and Administration, Mr. Evan Tillett, that their contracts, due to expire at the end of this year, will not be renewed.
Mr. Tillett is now on pre-retirement leave while Mrs. Taegar-Panton is staying on at the BTB temporarily to ensure a smooth transition, according to reliable sources.
With Belize facing stiff competition on the tourism front from Mexico, with its white-sand beaches at mega-resorts in Cancún, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, along with its and well-developed archaeological sites, and from Costa Rica, with its successful pitch of its sizable rain forest as a tourist attraction, Belize has been hard-pressed to advance its marketing efforts abroad.
This was echoed by BTIA President Dionne Chamberlain-Miranda in May at that body’s bi-annual general meeting,.
She noted that while cruise ship arrivals offered some hope for tourism in Belize to weather the current global recession, the more critical area of “overnight tourism” was suffering.
She called on the BTB to provide “more information” on the state of the industry, and remarked on the need for “innovation...change...(and) passion in terms of marketing effort.”
Well, whether or not those comments contributed to this latest shake-up at the BTB, the fact is that that agency has decided to seek two new top officials “after consulting with Board members, BTB employees, and various stakeholders in the industry.” declared Board Chairman Gaspar Guerrero.
“Many people in the industry have been asking the BTB to chart a new direction, and that is only possible with a new director,” he told this newspaper.
“Everything changes. We need new ideas, especially in marketing Belize abroad, to be more competitive regionally. This is a nice time to move forward.”
The chairman declined to say whether the Board had identified any candidates for the top posts soon to become vacant. “Everything is being done in a professional manner, and (the outgoing director) is helping us with the transition. The vacant posts should be advertised next week,” said Guerrero.
Mrs.Taegar-Panton has circulated a letter in which she “expressed (her) sincere gratitude for the opportunity...over the past twelve years to serve the Government and People of Belize...”
She proceeded to thank all “tourism stakeholders, industry partners, colleagues, BTB’s Management Team and Staff” for their support and camaraderie during her tenure.
She added that she is prepared to assist the Board until the end of this year in the interest of having “a smooth transition process”, while being “mindful that the industry has the potential to change the economic landscape of Belize.”