BELIZE CITY, Belize (October 26, 2005) - The Belize Tourism Industry Association members extend their heartfelt sympathy to the family and friends of Abigail Brinkman who lost her life in a diving mishap near South Silk Caye on the Barrier reef.
Ms. Brinkman was one of four divers who were swept out to sea when they abandoned their boat after it became disabled during a snorkel and SCUBA excursion originating in Placencia.
Pointing out that it is too early to comment on what exactly went wrong, the BTIA commended efforts on the part of the BDF and others involved in the search for their concerted efforts in locating the divers.
According to Major Ganney Dortch, Commanding Officer of the BDF Air Wing, the BDF covered over 150 square miles during four flights in search of the missing divers. At least six boats from Placencia also joined the search.
BTIA President Lucy Fleming said that tragedy underscored the need for strict quality control within the industry.
"We have all come a long way in the last twenty years or so, and should be proud of how far the industry has evolved. Belize boasts a very good record as far as safety and professionalism goes, especially when you consider how fast tourism has grown.
"As an industry, we have very good rules and regulations on the books. Now we must make sure that those regulations are adhered to and enforced so that our professionalism and resources grow along with the number of visitors."
Ms. Fleming joined other BTIA members in praising the rescue operation.
"Once again Belizeans have shown a real trait for coming together and rushing to help those in trouble or need. I'm sure that all of us in the tourism sector are deeply saddened by this tragedy, but I am also certain that it increases our resolve to provide the safest and most satisfying experience for all of our visitors," she said.
For more information about the Placencia Dive Tragedy, please contact the BTIA at telephone 227-5717 / 1144, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.btia.org.