Celi McCorkle wins Minister's Award for Tourism

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 13            March 30, 2000

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Celi McCorkle with Minister Mark Espat

Another first for Belize were the awards given for service to the tourism industry this past Saturday evening.  The 1st National Tourism Awards sponsored by the Belize Tourism Board in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism recognized those individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions and played a significant role in the industry. Celebrating the end of Tourism Week, (March 20 - 26) the ceremony was held at the House of Culture in Belize City.

    Master of Ceremonies Rene Villanueva introduced the All Star Band who played the National Anthem and entertained at intervals during the program on their wonderful steel drums. Minister of Tourism, Honorable Mark Espat then addressed the crowd, reiterating the industry's dedication and the theme driving them all, "Tourism Means Business".

    The event of the evening was the Minister's Award recognizing the individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the development of tourism in Belize. This award went proudly to the island's very own Celi McCorkle, owner of San Pedro Holiday Hotel. Called a "pioneer" in the industry, Ms. McCorkle was present for her award and accepted it proudly from Minister Espat, exclaiming "I thank the Belize Tourism Board and everyone involved in putting together this special night of recognition, awards and entertainment. I would like to thank my children for their help and sacrifice throughout the years and to my staff and entire family. Thirty-five years ago when I first opened the San Pedro Holiday Hotel, I would have never dreamed that a "Caye girl" would be receiving this prestigious award."

    Ms. McCorkle told the San Pedro Sun that she feels very humble and honored to have received this award. She continued by saying that if it were not for the many people that helped her along the way this would not have been possible. She feels happy that this award was given to someone in San Pedro where tourism was born. We congratulate Ms. Celi McCorkle for this deserving award and end with the words of Minister Espat, "It is a privilege to give this award to a special lady from humble beginnings, Ms. Celi McCorkle."

    The "Year Awards" category included "Tour Guide of the Year" given to David Vernon of Toadal Adventures in Placencia; "Tour Operator of the Year" won by Sarita and Lascelle Tillett of S&L Tours in Belize City; and Lamanai Outpost Lodge, operated by Mark and Monique Howell of Orange Walk Town was awarded "Hotel of the Year".

    The "Partnership Awards" category targeted tourism's transportation operators such as water taxis, ground taxis, domestic airlines, car rentals, etc. The "Receptive Service of the Year" award was granted to Mr. Leo Batty of Batty's Bus Service. "Educational Organization of the Year" was presented to Sacred Heart College of San Ignacio in the Cayo District. "Environmental Organization of the Year" was awarded to Will Mejia of TIDE in the Toledo District and Maria Vega of the Caye Caulker Chapter of the BTIA. The "Corporate Organization of the Year" award was given to Mr. Richard Harrison of Big H (sponsor of "La Ruta Maya River Challenge"). Between presentations the crowd was entertained by the lovely performances of the Belize Dance Company.

    In a very touching part of the program, Chairperson of the Belize Tourism Board, Ms. Therese Rath, paid tribute to the tourism efforts of the late Jean Shaw. She ended the Special Recognition presentation stating, "Belize is a better place thanks to Jean Shaw," to which those gathered heartily agreed.

    The official ceremony came to an end with the vote of thanks given by the President of the Belize Tourism Industry Association, Ida Saucedo.

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