With two hundred and
forty-two million dollars in
revenues representing eighteen
percent of the nation's gross
domestic product spread over
all six districts, the tourism
industry can make a credible
claim to being Belize's single
most important economic activity. Today the people
who co-ordinate efforts to attract visitors to our
shores and keep them happy once they reach here,
offered an assessment of where things may be
Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting
The Belize Tourism Board this morning held its fourth
annual Industry Presentation at the Princess Hotel in
Belize City. It's a time when Belize's fastest growing
economic sector takes stock of its achievements and
charts a way forward.
In delivering the welcome address, Tourism Minister
Mark Espat reminded the gathering that tourism is
truly a community product.
Mark Espat, Minister of Tourism
"The sum of an experience called Belize, where each
citizen can make a difference in this product cycle,
ours is an industry unconfined to a grove or a
plantation, unlimited to a factory, essentially people
centred. I welcome all Belizeans joining us today in
person or by radio broadcast, unconnected
professionally to the tourism sector as they may be,
yet requisite to its ultimate success."
The ultimate success of the industry was summed up
with a year in pictures.
"More than any other industry, tourism demands
partnership. If we cannot work with the community, if
we cannot work with the private sector, if we cannot
work with civil society, it is very difficult for us to
achieve success. And I think the proudest
accomplishment for our team at the B.T.B. is the
relationship we have with the tourism private sector."
In presenting the 2002-2003 budget and work plan,
Tourism Director Tracy Taegar says today's a proud
moment for an industry which has bounced back from
four hurricanes and the tragedy of September
Tracy Taegar, Director of Tourism
"The 2002-2003 work plan, "Designing Workable
Solutions for the Future", has taken into account
market trends and has incorporated the suggestions
and recommendations of the private sector in our
effort to engage in more efficient corporation. The
budget: total revenue projections for 2002-2003 are
estimated at nine point three million dollars, a record
investment in our tourism history. Revenue projections
have been calculated at a ten percent increase over
last year's collections."
A major development for Belize's tourism was also
welcomed this morning when Espat announced that
U.S. Air will begin flights into Belize in November.
"For us it's a giant step forward. The eastern coast
market that U.S. Airways is so proficient in is the
single largest producing area for international
travellers to the Caribbean. We feel that it will bring
tremendous opportunities for Belize for tourism as
well as Belizeans. And so we are quite please that we
were able to sign this agreement with U.S. Airways."
According to U.S. Air's Geographic Revenue Manager,
Susan Mrachek, the world's eleventh largest air carrier
has three hubs, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Charlotte.
Susan Mrachek, Geographic Revenue Manager,
"Charlotte gives you connections to about fifty other
cities beyond Charlotte. So we thought it was the
best vein for the buck in regard to choosing which hub
to carry the people to."
The new service will begin with twice weekly flights in
a one hundred and twenty passenger Airbus 319 and if
traffic warrants, could quickly rise to four. Ann-Marie
Williams for News 5.
The B.T.B.'s budget, the bulk of which is used for
marketing and promotion, is financed primarily
through collection of the seven percent tax on hotel
rooms. The video review of the B.T.B.'s 2001
operations will be aired tonight immediately
following Caribbean Headline News.