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#399974 - 02/10/11 04:07 PM Tourism Industry Shakeup
Marty Offline
There's been a major shakeup in the tourism industry, specifically, the Belize Tourism Board of Directors. The firings this week of at least two board directors by Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia has sent shock waves through the industry. They are Santino Castillo and Stanley Longsworth, Jr.
"It came like a thief in the night," says popular businessman, Castillo, who is - for the next week, at least - the current Vice-Chairman of the Board.

He received his dismissal letter today from the Minister, which thanked him for his service, and advised him that as of Tuesday, February 15th, his term will expire with the Board. The second director fired, Stanley Longsworth, Jr is said to have received his dismissal letter sometime yesterday. Board members all serve at the pleasure of the Minister of Tourism.

Channel 7

#400046 - 02/11/11 03:37 PM Re: Tourism Industry Shakeup [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Why Did “Santi” Get Sacked

Last night we told you about the sudden exit of two prominent members of the Belize Tourism Board of Directors. The news sent shock waves thru an industry that has been reeling from one report of bad news after the other. Only recently the much-criticized former CEO, Michael Singh was declined a contract renewal.

The latest shakeup at the BTB this week has to do with the removal of a man thought to be a major UDP financier Santiago Castillo, Jr, Vice-Chairman of the Board's Finance Sub-committee, and another UDP friendly Stanley Longsworth, Jr. So what's behind the firings, and did they have executive approval?

Today, Seven News Jim McFadzean spoke by phone with the Minister seeking answers and clarification for a rumor mill run amuck with speculation about the removals.

Jim McFadzean
"Any reason why these two board members from the finance subcommittee were removed by you?"

Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
"One was removed and the other resigned."

Jim McFadzean
"Who resigned? Which of the two resigned?"

Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
"Mr. Longsworth."

Jim McFadzean
"Did he say why he resigned?"

Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
"Well it's something personal which I don't think..if anything, he is the one that is supposed to be interviewed. But that one, we had a conversation and we agreed and he said, 'Being that is the case, I suppose to resign for the best interest of the industry.'"

Jim McFadzean
"Why was Mr. Castillo removed?"

Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
"Well for him I feel that I have someone else that I am thinking of appointing and I feel that Mr. Santino has served well but I feel that there are a lot of Belizeans that have expertise and want to share with us also. It's not because of any nonperformance. I feel that under the act it makes provision that you are appointed for a certain time and after that time in the interest of the industry, If I feel that there is someone that can bring new ideas or different ideas then my aim is to have the best at BTB and hence it's not a political fallout."

Jim McFadzean
"Well if Mr. Castliio was performing like you said, was doing a superb job, why replace him?"

Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
"I didn't say Mr. Castillo, I said the board."

Jim McFadzean
"But you are only replacing Mr. Castillo and in the case of Mr. Longsworth well he resigned."

Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
"Well this coming week I will looking carefully over it because this will be my final Wednesday when I'm in office, so either re-appoint or bring new, others to the board."

Jim McFadzean
"So there is no truth that you just recently in December re-appointed the full membership of the board to an extended term leading up to the end of the UDP administration?"

Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
"Not so."

Jim McFadzean
"So that's false?"

Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
"One can still be appointed, because coming to the end of the term I am just starting to send letters."

Jim McFadzean
"Have you decided who you are going to replace these two men with on the board?"

Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
"Yes I have in mind but I have to I have to refer with my PM. When I will let go someone I discuss it with my Prime Minister and if I will appoint I will do likewise."

Jim McFadzean
"The fact that Mr. Castillo and Mr. Longsworth sat on this sub finance committee that oversaw the dissemination of approved budget requests from the Belize Tourism Board, did that have anything to do with the fact that these two men will no longer serve on the Board of Directors?"

Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
"Not so. Again because the sub committees, the Board recommends to me who they feel should serve in the different committees that have a side from the Board of Directors."

Longsworth who was appointed to the Board in September of last year, and served as Chairman of the Cruise sub-committee, agreed to step down when he met with the Minister on Monday of this week.

Longsworth told Seven News in a telephone conversation today, that the Minister was concerned that his financial interest in the Boat Tender industry posed a conflict of interest. Hence he submitted his resignation to the Minister on Tuesday of this week.

Castillo has been serving on the Board since the change of Government in 2008 as Vice-Chairman of the Finance Sub-Committee. He told Seven News that he was taken aback by the messenger delivered letter of termination, since only a little over a month ago, at a Board meeting, the Minister had expressed his intent to renew the tenure of all sitting Board members. A point Longsworth also confirmed with Seven News.

The Prime Minister today told us that he has spoken with Santino Castillo and heard his grievances. But he told us that unless there is some legal case to be made impugning the minister's decision he has no intention to interfere with the minister and must assume that he had a good reason for doing so.

The Prime Minister called us back later in the evening to confirm that he had spoken to Minister Herredia and is satisfied that Santino's term was up on February 15th., and in that case, he has no complaint at all with Herredia's decision.

Channel 7

#400058 - 02/11/11 03:55 PM Re: Tourism Industry Shakeup [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Santino not fired because he blocked purchase of ministerial vehicle

Santino Castillo

We reported in our newscast on Wednesday, that Santino Castillo, the deputy chairman of the Belize Tourism Board who also chairs the Board’s Finances Committee, had been unceremoniously dumped from the B.T.B. His firing came in a letter signed by the Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia, delivered at Castillo’s office. It is big news because Castillo has been at the B.T.B. for years, including a tenure as chairman, and in fact just recently he was re-appointed to the same Board from which he was fired. Aside from his credentials, the Castillo family is a well known supporter and financier of the U.D.P. So what went wrong? From what we gather, Castillo along with Stanley Longsworth, Jr., who was fired on Tuesday, had stood in the way of the extravagant spending at the B.T.B. and furthermore Castillo had just blocked funds towards the purchase of a brand new luxury vehicle for the Minister. But according to Minister Heredia, the firing is not personal and the two new members of the Board will made known by February fifteenth.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism

“Even if you are a good one and I feel that we have other good potentials outside that probably I need to bring back to see what they have, I have the option of doing that one. You’re not there forever right or for the whole term of – likewise, with the Prime Minister, if he feels that one of us is not serving well, he can move you at his convenience. So I am very thankful to Mister Santino for the time that he has been serving over there. I feel that I need to do a little change in my Board and that is what I will do. I have done so with my Chairman, let me see, one, two, this is the third time. If I need to make any more changes and just re-appoint the rest, then I will so Wednesday.”

Marion Ali

“Some people have said that Mister Castillo has done well during his term, that he has actually save a lot of money…”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Let me tell you, the entire Board has done a wonderful job. I don’t think there has been any Board that has been better than this one that we have.”

Marion Ali

“So why change?”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Because like I said, there are a lot of Belizeans that have a wealth of experience also.”

Marion Ali

“Ok, so it’s just to give somebody else a chance?”

Manuel Heredia

“Yes, somebody else a break. If you have seen the way I have done my Board, it not political appointees. I don’t believe in that and I have that option to do so because it doesn’t really affect me politically, right.”

Marion Ali

“You said this was the best Board thus far. And there is saying, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it”?”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Well, like I say, I feel like there are other people, good Belizeans then, that probably are not as politically involved but have a wealth of talent. I still consider him a friend and in fact, I was one of his campaign people when he ran for this division. I was a key person in his campaign.”

Marion Ali

“So it has nothing to do with him not approving, maybe the purchase of a vehicle for your use here or…?”

Manuel Heredia

“No man, that – let me be very clear, like the P.M. said; man, if you look at the records of the B.T.B., I don’t think you’ve had any Minister that has managed the budget and the affairs of the B.T.B. to the last penny than this one.”

So according to the minister, Castillo was a good board member, who he simply wants to replace. But in the scheme of things, the bigger question is did the prime minister know and will Castillo and Longsworth be left out in the cold?

Channel 5

#400063 - 02/11/11 04:00 PM Re: Tourism Industry Shakeup [Re: Marty]
Amanda Syme Offline
I have the utmost respect and confidence in Mr Santino Castillo - he is an astute businessman and he definitely has the nation's best interests at heart. He has served as the chairman of the BTB in the past and has served his post at the BTB well. I am astounded and saddened by this apparently rash and undignified decision.

#400117 - 02/12/11 02:01 PM Re: Tourism Industry Shakeup [Re: Amanda Syme]
Mike Campbell Offline
It would seem most unlikely that Jr. made the decision himself. I doubt that he makes any decision without consulting and usually just does as he is told. Sad it is. Hard to swallow what a great job our Tourism Ministry has done. I dont really see any accomplishments, just a continued slide. Our single biggest factor is airline fares into Belize and the GOB does not seem to be willing to make the effort to address this critical problem.

#400143 - 02/12/11 04:13 PM Re: Tourism Industry Shakeup [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Santi and Stanley Longsworth, Jr., sacked from BTB

Amid unresolved conflict between local boat operators and Carnival Cruise Lines, the tourism industry continues to be in the center of controversy, as reports reaching our news desk on Wednesday were that two directors of the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) had been suddenly and arbitrarily sacked by the Minister responsible for tourism, after their reappointment had been agreed to less than two months ago.

The men are well-known businessman, Santino Castillo, a long-standing supporter of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP), and Stanley Longsworth, Jr., son of Stanley Longsworth, Sr., of Caribbean Shipping, the man who had been first picked to help coordinate a new tendering regime for cruise ships just last month.

Amandala was unable to reach the Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia, under whose portfolio the BTB falls, when we tried to telephone him several times today.

Reliable sources say that the reappointment of Longsworth and Castillo had been agreed to in mid-December, 2010, and Amandala furthermore understands that Castillo, who is the deputy chairman of BTB, had also been made signatory to one of the BTB’s bank accounts.

Santino has also been the chair of the finance subcommittee of the board, and we understand that there had been some differences over spending issues, including a proposal to purchase a 2011 Prado for a very high official.

When Amandala spoke with Prime Minister Barrow Thursday morning, he told us that he was of the impression that the terms of office of both Castillo and Longsworth had expired and that the minister sent them letters to end their service because, “The minister is obviously deciding that he wants two other persons.”

Barrow said that he, too, is looking at making some changes to some boards that he appoints.

In speaking on the BTB matter this morning, he said: “I don’t attach real significance to that at all.”

Barrow also told us that he had received a text message from Santino on Wednesday about the matter. He said he would call Santino before the end of the day to speak with him personally.

He calls what was done a “normal sort of rotation in the course of operations.”

Amandala understands, however, that after Barrow spoke with Castillo today, around the lunch hour, that further information was brought to light, and we understand that he intends to take the matter to Cabinet next week, to raise the matter of their reinstatement.

Our newspaper understands that the termination letter was sent to Santino via courier.

Barrow concedes that it would have been better for a call to have been made to the directors beforehand.

The BTB board is, among other things, responsible for developing, and promoting efficiency in, the Belize tourism industry.


#401045 - 02/25/11 03:34 PM Re: Tourism Industry Shakeup [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Who will replace Santi at B.T.B.?

Since the firing of Santino Castillo Junior from his position as deputy chairman of the Belize Tourism Board on February ninth, several professionals within the tourism industry have been sought to fill the vacancy. At least one has turned down the offer and we are reliably informed that an executive member of the Belize Tourism Industry Association has been approached and is considering the appointment. With things topsy-turvy in the industry, insiders say that the BTIA is seeking an audience with the prime minister to, among other things, suggest dramatic changes at the top of the Ministry of Tourism. Castillo along with Stanley Longsworth Junior, are both stalwarts of the United Democratic Party and are well known in the industry. Following the announcement, the BTB said that it would have named their replacements within two-days of the termination, but that hasn’t taken place. As for Castillo, well one report suggests that he has been offered an appointment to another board, but he is yet to accept.

Channel 5

#401062 - 02/25/11 04:24 PM Re: Tourism Industry Shakeup [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
They will replace him with someone who will not scrutinize BTB spending and allow the Minister to order a luxury vehicle and who will be compliant.
Belize based travel specialist

#401073 - 02/25/11 05:59 PM Re: Tourism Industry Shakeup [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
that makes things easier. for some.

#401109 - 02/26/11 12:51 AM Re: Tourism Industry Shakeup [Re: Marty]
Mike Campbell Offline
Can you imagine what would happen if he showed up in San Pedro driving it around? LOL


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