Celi McCorkle honored by CTO

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 22            June 13, 2002

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Ms. Celi McCorkle - Belize's "Tourism Pioneer" -
photo by Lisa Guerrero

The Belize Tourism Board announced this week that San Pedro's best-known entrepreneur and hotelier, Celi McCorkle was recently recognized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) for her contribution to the development of Belize's tourism industry. Ms. McCorkle joined fellow Caribbean "honorees" awarded for their "significant role and devotion in ensuring growth in the Caribbean tourism industry". The award, given last Friday, took place during a celebration of CTO's 50th anniversary at the 29th Annual Governments of the Caribbean State Ball held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

    In 1963, Ms. Celi Nuñez McCorkle, a Belizean pioneer in the tourism industry, opened the first hotel in San Pedro Town. At that time, Holiday Hotel was a five-bedroom/one bath hotel located in her native fishing village. The hotel has since blossomed into a 16-unit, air-conditioned, beachfront resort complete with bar and restaurant, and "private bath and shower in each room".

    Celi McCorkle has fostered a great entrepreneurial spirit in the country. At a time when the leading sources of income for the country were agricultural products and wood exportation, her prophecy was "tourism will become the leading industry in Belize". Subsequently, Ms. McCorkle witnessed the opening of 63 registered hotels and many other tourism-related developments. Her ingenuity and friendliness have helped to create an entirely new and dynamic industry for San Pedro and Belize.These seeds of growth were planted in neighboring Caye Caulker and then in Cayo District and Placencia, all which can now boast to be major tourism centers in Belize.

    Minister of Tourism, Honorable Mark Espat commented, "We are proud of Ms. McCorkle's continued devotion to tourism. She is a celebrated example that success in this industry requires vision, hard work and devoutness. We congratulate her on her success and encourage other Belizeans to take a stake in the industry's development."

   Celi McCorkle's involvement in her community goes far beyond her hotel and her many personal charities. As a community member, she has served on the San Pedro Village Council, as Chairperson of the San Pedro High School, numerous times as president of the Belize Tourism Industry Association, as president of the Belize Hotel Association, as a board member of the Belize Tourism Board and a director of the Caribbean Hotel Association (1982).In the year 2000, Ms. McCorkle was honored as the first recipient of the prestigious Minister's Award for Tourism, presented to individuals who have made a lasting contribution to the development of Belize's tourism industry.

    On the island, "Miss Celi" is known for her generosity and "lively spirit". She jokingly told The San Pedro Sun, "It is so rewarding and satisfying to know that if you live long enough, someone will recognize you for your accomplishments." On a more serious note, she acknowledged that the "real" honor was that "the Caribbean Tourism Organization recognized Belize for the first time - and the person receiving the award was a woman!"

    Because of the determination and influence of individuals like Ms. Celi McCorkle, tourism in Belize has made a profound impact on the Belizean way of life. Like her vision, tourism continues to grow, keeping Belize's economy alive and vibrant.

    Congratulations, again, Miss Celi - you do Belize proud!!!

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