The Belize Tourism Board is taking strides in increasing the safety for the tourists and visitors of Belize. And, as of this week, tour guides and tour operators countrywide began working under new rules. Several items that were policies have now been made laws, and among them, high on the priority list, is the ratio of guides to tourist.
Tour guides conducting marine tours, for example snorkeling and diving must do so at a ratio of eight tourists to one guide, terrestrial trip, for example ruin excursions, must be made at a ratio of fifteen tourists per guide.
In an interview with Channel 5, Product Development Manager for the Belize Tourism Board, Anthony Mahler stated, “For many of the things that were policy that didn’t have the teeth to go to court or that we could levy a summons or something that could have effect, so many of those policies have now become law. And the priority ones are the ratio for guide to tourists and some of the training programs and for the tour operators, primarily the dive policy. All the steps that were outlined in the dive policy have now become law. […] When you have growth in tourism like we’ve had or experienced over the last few years, we’ll have growth in the number of incidents. But if you look at Belize as a destination, we’re still a safe destination, but we’re trying to be proactive. For example, what we’re going to do this fiscal year, starting April, is to come up with a safety and security DVD or training manual that we’ll issue to tour guides and tour operators. This is the best practices that we’d like to see you use when you’re dealing with marine tours, these are the best practices that we’d like to see you use if you’re dealing with terrestrial tours, and if you’re caught in a tough situation that you need to be rescued, these are some of the steps that you can take to ensure that you save the lives of your tourists with yourself.” He continued, “Again, this is an ongoing process. We need the support of the industry on a whole when we make these decisions, but whatever we do we’ll consult with industry; that’s a critical part because those are the people out there and whatever regulations we put in place will affect them. But we’re trying to have a safe industry but not go overboard too much so that it becomes a detriment to the growth of industry as well.”
Other regulations that were amended include adding the definition for ‘high risk activities’ which are now defined as caving, cave tubing, diving and marine-based activities, repelling, horseback riding, and kayaking; and the fact that all licenses will expire within a year and will be renewed after certain specifications are met including providing satisfactory proof that the applicant is certified in safety, first aid, and cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
For more information on the new rules, please contact Kenneth Williams at the Belize Tourism Board at number 223(1913).