MOU Signed For Intíl Airport At Basil Jones
In 2015, the Prime Minister announced that the Basil Jones airstrip on Northern Ambergris Caye will be transformed into Belize's second international airport. It will be called the Efrain Guerrero International Airport - it is an ambitious project that is expected to significantly increase tourist arrivals in Belize, specifically on San Pedro. Now the plan is to make it a state of the art airport that will accommodate flights from major carriers like United and American Airlines among others, including those from Europe and Canada. Well, the project was put into motion today - at least the preliminary stages. The government and the strategic investor from South Florida signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Belmopan today. 7news was there to find out more about this major project.
Jorge Jane, Director - Int'l Airport Alliance
"We're coming into with assistance of the government of Belize to be able to build a brand new international airport in Ambergris Caye. It follows a directive of the Prime Minister. It follows the idea and the strategy that the government has in place to be able to increase the opportunities for the residents of Ambegris Caye and San Pedro. It's going to be a driving force, the airport is going to be state of the art, very modern. It's going to be similar what you'd be experience in a standard international airport around the world today. So it's going to be major airlines - 767, 787s. That's the design that we are looking for. That's where the modern airlines are going to because the fuel economy of those aircrafts. So we will be able to bring different opportunities from Europe, Canada, South America straight to Ambergris Caye."
Hon, Tracy Taegar-Panton, Minister of State - Trade
"There is still some work to do in terms of the commitment and the arrangements for the land and that sort of thing. So the MOU is in effect for a year, another 12 months and during that period of time we hope to complete all the due diligence for the project and immediately thereafter once we are able to meets those goals, move into the construction phase."
Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation
"This airport to me means a lot, because I always thing about the future and seeing the way San Pedro have been developing year after year, being the number tourist destination of this country. I can foresee the next 10 years if this happens, which I believe it will. It will develop so much that it will be probably the next city of Belize."
The Memorandum of Understanding is set for 12 months - during that time the team will finalize logistics in terms of land, finances and environmental assessments. This new airport is expected to cost over $100 million US dollars.
Now the organization responsible for linking Belize and the investors in South Florida is the Belize American Chamber of Commerce. We spoke to the Executive Director Michael D. Young about how important this collaboration is.
Michael D. Young, Belize American Chamber of Commerce
"Two years ago actually we have relationships with the real movers and shakers of Miami and when Minister Contreras actually visited South Florida for one of our seminars or workshops actually that's when we connected them with this Miami group and they immediately hit of off. They had a lot of similarities, because as you know South Florida is melting pot just like Belize. So they really hit it off and from there the rest is history."
As you heard, construction is expected to start after the 12 months period. We will keep following this story.