[Linked Image]

BTB's Elevate Scale-up Program supports training of PADI Scuba Instructors to meet the Growing Demand in the Marine Tourism Industry

Nine Belizean marine tour guides completed the PADI Instructor Exam and were certified as PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors. The PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) is the most comprehensive and demanding scuba instructor training course in the dive industry. The program was delivered over twelve days through Sea Sports Belize, a PADI 5-star Instructor Development Center, and the leader in PADI Instructor Development operating in Belize City for more than 25 years. At the end of the IDC, PADI sends an independent examiner to facilitate the Instructor Exam. The candidate's knowledge is tested in the classroom and in the water. Candidates must pass written exams in PADI Standards and Procedures and Dive Theory. They are also evaluated on Academic Knowledge Development presentations, and Confined and Open Water presentations. Candidates are also required to demonstrate instructor quality dive skills and must pass a professional rescue skill evaluation. Throughout the course they are also judged on their level of professionalism.

In order to meet the shortage of dive professionals in Belize, the BTB recognized the need to train more scuba instructors to meet the growing demand. The nine PADI Instructors were recipients of scholarships offered through Hon. Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, and the Belize Tourism Board's Elevate "Scale-Up" program. The Elevate Program is being executed over the next three years and offers training opportunities for persons in the tourism industry throughout Belize. Elevate offers five sub-programs- AMBASSADOR, BEST, SCALE-UP, TASTE, and SAFE, all aimed at improving the Belizean tourism product. Scale-Up is specific for tour guides and provides the training needed to meet the growing demand in the tourism industry.

The PADI examiner, who is PADI's regional manager for Central America, expressed that there is a shortage of SCUBA professionals around the world. He was very pleased to see these new instructors entering the field and very happy with their performance in the Instructor Exam. All candidates performed exceptionally well throughout the 3 day examination, and happily for all, there was a 100% pass rate! In Belize, this is a welcomed addition to the tourism industry in general and a big boost to the SCUBA diving sector in particular.

The nine new PADI Instructors hail from all corners of Belize, including Belize City, Stann Creek, Corozal, San Pedro, and Toledo and work within the tourism industry in Hopkins, Glover's Reef, Turneffe, San Pedro, and Belize City. All candidates expressed sincere appreciation for the scholarship and assistance provided through Minister Anthony Mahler and the Belize Tourism Board's Elevate program. Pictured are the new instructors after being given their Certificates of Completion by the PADI examiner. Mcleish Lambey and Henry Williams are kneeling, and in the back row PADI Examiner and Regional Manager Claudio Brandileone, Evan Martinez, Yoney Vega, Carlos Bradley, Ernesto Navidad, Bevinton Cal, Sergio Hoare, Jose Munoz (IDC Staff Instructor candidate), Jason Estrada, and PADI Course Director, John Searle. Congratulations all on a job well done!