Belize hosts International Responsible Tourism Conference

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 19, No. 40            October 22, 2009

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Dr. Mahung addresses the crowd.

Members of the Tourism Industry.

Responsible tourism; it is a practice to promote tourism that brings benefit to local industries without damaging the culture and environment of a community and country. That is the direction that the Ministry of Tourism is moving into. As a result of the new direction the Ministry of Tourism is taking, they hosted the third International Responsible Tourism Conference (IRTC) this week in Belmopan. The international conference is part of a global effort aimed at promoting responsible tourism in the tourism industry.

    The Ministry of Tourism stated that it is the best way to go and encourages stakeholders to adopt practices that promote responsible tourism. Technical Officer in the Ministry of Tourism Yashin Dujon stated that, “to encourage the stakeholders to adopt practices that support responsible tourism, we at the Ministry made the first step to develop our own environmental policy.” Those policies, according to Dujon, are the installation of equipment aimed at conserving water and energy through their Environmental Policy, promoting the consumption of local and eco-friendly goods through their Purchasing Policy and supporting the community based organizations within the tourism field.

    Currently, there is no national policy that encourages Responsible Tourism but the Ministry is moving swiftly to have a National Policy by 2010. According to Dujon, the Ministry of Tourism is working with the Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations (APAMO) to come up with the National Policy.

    When ask if the National Policy will offer incentives to stakeholders that adopt responsible tourism practices, Dujon stated that, “the national master plan will be completed in 2010 and it is dependent on the whole concept of responsible tourism and good environmental practices and the Ministry will be looking closely at that aspect.”

    Dujon stated that moving into responsible tourism is a step in the right direction. “The concept of responsible tourism is a step in the right direction. The world is in a global recession. What we need to do is take advantage of the recession, adopt new measures so when the time comes to get out of this crisis, we will be ahead of other countries,” stated Dujon.

    The conference ends today and the Ministry is expected to sign a joint declaration adopting six topics discussed during the international conference. Those topics include; Tourism and Local Economic Development, Tourism and Climate Change, Responsible Cruise Tourism, Second homes/Condominium and their impact on local communities, Tourism planning for global Pandemic and Natural Disaster and Tourism impact on Costal Zone and Marine Areas. The declaration will be signed by the Co-Chair of the International Conference, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr. and the Founder of International Center of Responsible Tourism Doctor Harold Goodwin. Over 150 people from 25 countries including Belize participated in the conference.
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