There’s a new tourism organization in town and its scope covers everyone in the industry, including hair braiders and small tour operators. Its advent, however, comes at a time when the industry has been flatlined by COVID-19. So what is the Belize Local Association of Stakeholders in Tourism born out of and what is its mandate? Earlier today, News Five spoke with Randy Jones, an executive of BLAST, who said that the first order of business has been to reach out to tour guides and operators who are most affected by the prolonged closure of the tourism industry.
Randy Jones, Executive Member, BLAST
“We saw the necessity of such an organization because in the past we have B.T.I.A., we have all the other associations and organizations but they’re mainly dealing with the big operators, the hotels, et cetera and not a lot of attention was being paid to the small people, you know, at the bottom of the food chain. So after this pandemic had hit us, we had Mr. Nikolai Alvarado and several others who came together and saw the need to fill this void and addressing the needs of the hair braiders, the bartenders, guides, you know, people that are basically the backbone of the industry. So that is how come BLAST came about. BLAST is, as we speak, reaching out to people in the industry that are doing very bad. We’ve actually sent several sacks of oranges to fellow guides and others in the industry, out to San Pedro. Basically, it’s each one reach one. We are promoting helping each other. We have some people who were prepared for such an event like we’re going through and a lot that weren’t. So we’re reaching out to each other in the industry, helping out each other. Simultaneously, we are preparing for when the industry bounces back. Hopefully sometime next year. We’re not looking for a whole lot to happen this year as a result of COVID-19, but BLAST has already put together safety protocols.”