The Belize Tourism Board has reported record breaking success for the first quarter of this year 2013 in terms of overnight tourist arrivals which includes the airport and all other ports of entry. In January, a seventeen point one eight percent increase was recorded while in February there was an eleven point five nine percent increase and March saw a hike of eleven point zero three percent. Cumulatively, the first quarter of the year recorded an increase of thirteen point zero percent in tourists arrivals for the overnight sector. In the area of cruise ship arrivals, a nineteen point four percent increase was recorded in January while February saw an eleven point three nine percent augment. While these figures are impressive, the demand for tour guides is very high especially with the rapid growing numbers in tourist arrivals. In efforts of alleviating this deficiency, the Northern Tour Guide Association, with the financial assistance of the European Union, will launch a programme that will see the training of 25 young Belizeans who would like to take up tour guiding as their career.

Antonio Novelo, VP of Northern Tour Guide Association

“We just got Word that a training program that we were planning last year it will materialized quick, very quick so within these two weeks this program will get started and we are hoping that at least 25 persons who are very interested in the field because this is an ever growing industry and today the tourism industry is the number one foreign exchange earner for Belize so we are hoping that more people take advantage of this opportunity to take this course and we are targeting people specially who have recently graduated from fourth forms from schools and so on. We know that there is an urgent need for more tour guides, like when several ships call to port we are talking about four to five ships calling to port on a Wednesday means a lot of jobs and carrying capacities cannot be implemented which means that a guide will be having for sure more than the amount he supposed to have, 25 guides will not do much but we talking about several thousands of people coming to shore and if are talking about carrying capacities at the caves only eight tourist are permitted per guide which is even worst so we saw this need and we drafted up a proposal and the European Union and La Immaculate Credit Union studied and they liked the idea and in this way some locals will take advantage of this and for sure apply to become a tour guide which is this ever-growing industry in Belize, tour guiding.”

According to Antonio Novelo, Vice President of the Northern Tour Guide Association, certain protocols will be followed by the NTGA when selecting the persons for the course which promises to bring huge benefits to the Northern communities.

Antonio Novelo, VP of Northern Tour Guide Association

“It will benefit directly because specially high school students who cannot immediately get a job, if they qualify for this and they get to enjoy it and like the job they would stick to this and this will bring much needed income to their families to their homes.”

The program will be fully finance by the NTGA through the La Inmaculada Credit Union in Partnership with the European Union. As you may be aware, the overnight sector is the biggest income generator in terms of the tourism product for Belize since visitors stay longer, meaning they spend more money.