Tourism stakeholders may be interested to know that the tourism master plan is getting an update. Isani Cayetano was at the signing of a memorandum of understanding today between the B.T.B. and the University of Belize.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan was endorsed by Cabinet a little over eleven years ago.� Since then, it has become the strategic guideline for tourism development in Belize.� That dynamic, long-term planning document provides a conceptual layout to guide future growth within the travel and leisure sector.� The tourism industry has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, creating significant market shocks.� In order to remain competitive, Belize's National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan has to be revisited.

Evan Tillett, Director of Tourism

"In tourism, we lead or we die in a very dynamic and competitive environment.� The name of the game today is not whether we will recover but what we will do after the recovery process is completed and what will be the vision for tourism after that.� It is therefore incumbent on us as the agency responsible for tourism development in Belize to engage in a comprehensive process of review of our current growth path and adjust where necessary."

Earlier today, the Belize Tourism Board signed an agreement with the University of Belize to revise the tourism master plan.� Utilizing an in-house team of technical experts, along with assistance from the University of Melbourne, Australia, a ten-month consultancy will be undertaken.

Dr. Vincent Palacio, Interim President, UB

"The tourism industry, as we know, plays a very crucial role in our national development, very important.� And hence, to ensure that we have a plan, a strategic plan to guide this industry is very important. Just last week, I was at a COBEC meeting and I addressed the audience and I stressed to them the need for us at the university to guide national development rather than to follow national development.� So we're taking our role as the national university to assist with the guiding the leading of national development.� We take that very seriously."

Abil Castaneda is the Quality Management and Capacity Development at BTB.

Abil Castaneda, Quality Assurance Management, BTB

"The first phase will take about two to three months in doing diagnosis and an assessment of all the sort of background context that we currently are in.� The impacts that COVID has created in the industry, issues such as climate change resilience, safety and security which necessarily weren't included in the first, original version of the NSTMP, of the master plan itself.� So the team will really take a deep dive into where we are now and using that information to be able to then establish what would be the recommendations for priority projects and product development and recommendations for marketing and all the different sectors moving forward."

This process will not only shed light on the gaps that Belize currently has in its tourism development strategy, it will also seek to bring country up to scratch with new travel trends and market realities, so as to facilitate future tourism growth and prominence.

Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism & Diaspora Relations

"This is the first step.� We are also in discussions with the University of Belize to see the best way forward, to chart the best way forward for a tourism and hospitality institute and hopefully, later on this year we will have either a groundbreaking or we will start to initiate some of the programs as we continue this path forward in that initiative."

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