The “WOW” Factor
Corozal Mestizo Culture – Photo by Gach Guerrero©
"Deliverying Service at the highest Level" – Bonita Morgan, Director of Resources Mobilization & Development,
Caribbean Tourism Organization
13th Annual Tourism Industry Presentation shows growing trends – hosted in Corozal
Back in time of the self-governing colony in the early 1960’s sugar cane production became Belize’s main export crop. You might ask, well what does this have to do with the caption Tourism topic. Could there be a problem for our northern farmers becoming too dependent on one single export crop. Sugar cane like any other agriculture product faces various problems of falling and fluctuating world prices. Other problems include crop diseases and infestations; rising costs in fuel, fertilizer and pesticide prices; inferior roads and cane quality demands from the factory. On the macro side of things, can and would cane farmers diversify into other industries and is there a potential for Tourism growth in Corozal. How do we plan for it and who gets involved in factoring the plan to move Tourism in Corozal Forward and to the next level. It is each and every stakeholder in the industry here, the tour operator, the taxi driver, the hotelier, the restaurant owner, the developer, all students, conservationists, the hot dog vendor, the artisans and everyone should all be factored, in the foot print for the sustainable growth of this industry in Corozal.
On Wednesday January 15th for the first time, Corozal hosted the 13th Annual Tourism Industry Presentation sponsored by the Belize Tourism Board. With the growing trends in the industry, other achievements and past performances were celebrated. The Ministry of Tourism announced that it has just secured an eleven million Belize dollar loan for infrastructural development through Taiwan’s International Cooperation for Development Fund (TICDF).
A conglomerate of stakeholders in the Tourism Industry, the Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia Jr. officials from the Belize Tourist Board and Belize Tourism Industry Association met at Tony’s Hotel where they discussed past performances and the way forward with the Tourism Master Plan.
"We plan to look at the development of waterfront strategy for Punta Gorda, a tourism development plan for Caye Caulker, and since one of the reasons we also chose Corozal was to also announce that we plan to work with the residents of Corozal for the development of a waterfront strategy for Corozal Town" announced Director of Tourism, Laura Esquivel-Frampton.
The Corozal Daily would like the BTB to publicly share the waterfront strategy plan to the people of Corozal for their approval and further input, as we have been told by many stakeholders in the industry who were at yesterday’s presentation that they are unaware of that collective plan.
According to Director of Tourism, Laura Esquivel-Frampton - “The development of national connectivity. The National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan identifies some constraints to tourism development as being poor level of accessibility by land and air. It goes on further to say that further input from the tourism sector should be allowed in terms of accessibility and transportation infrastructures. While the B.T.B. is not an implementer, we can be the conduit and lobby via the Ministry of Tourism and Culture for the creation of the ministerial council which is spoken about in our master plan and then through that lobby for our access to our destinations, improved infrastructure and of course improvements at all of our arrival sites.”
Minister of Tourism Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. stated: “The ministry is also in the process of negotiating other cooperation agreements to support the development of tourism infrastructure with key international partners. Just this week, in fact, the ministry was successful in securing an eleven million dollar project through the Taiwan International Cooperation Development Fund for the upgrading of the House of Culture and the preservation of other historical buildings in Belize City. Four million is being discussed with BRDP to look at other community-based tourism initiatives for both northern and southern Belize.”
Minister Heredia continued “In 2013, we saw an increase of twenty-one point two percent in the number of tour operators in Belize and eight point four percent growth in license accommodations establishing, meaning that the one thousand, four hundred license tour guides and thousands of Belizean hospitality workers could have more opportunity for meaningful employment in 2013/2014. This is a testament to what is possible when we the public and private sector work in close collaboration to ensure that tourism remains a national priority. In 2013, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Belize Tourism Board reaffirmed its commitment to being of service to this industry. This approach is grounded in the principle of good governance that exercises all its powers to create an enabling environment for those that we are mandated to serve.”
In her key note address Bonita Morgan, Director of Resource Mobilization & Dev. CTO emphasized the importance of the ten responsible tourism components and delivering the experience and service at the highest level. “The region as a whole at the end of 2013, we are not going to go higher than a three percent in increase in arrivals and some of our destinations are going to have, have registered a flat performance in 2013. So it has to be that you are doing something right within Belize in terms of working together—public and private sector—to make sure you take advantage of whatever opportunities are out there to bring visitors into your country. So congratulations to you because as I said that is to what is happening in the rest of the Caribbean. Now, companies and businesses are talking about a different kind of tourism and the words they are using and the properties that I am staying at in Belize City is speaking the language too; they are talking responsible tourism. Responsible tourism is a component of sustainable tourism development in terms of the kinds of businesses we are developing. And businesses all over the world are talking about this triple bottom line: where you are talking about profit yes, but also people and planet. So we are looking at this triple bottom line as something that we need as responsible businesses and in our cause responsible tourism businesses to pay attention to.”
Tourism continues to be an essential and important foreign exchange earner for Belize and planned properly will complement Corozal’s agriculture and cane industry.
Corozal Daily (…Sometimes)