The opening ceremony of The International Bilingual Coral Reef Exhibition was held on November 12th, 1998 at the Saint John's College Gymnasium. The theme for the exhibit is "Our Reefs: Caribbean Connections." The exhibit was organized by the Belize Audubon Society and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Master of Ceremonies for the event was Vincent Palacio of the University College of Belize. The ceremony began with the singing of the National Anthem and an invocation by Fr. Timothy Thompson of Saint John's College. The welcome address was delivered by Jose "Pepe" Garcia of the Belize Audubon Society.
"This past year we celebrated the International Year of the Reef and this year we are celebrating the International Year of the Ocean," said Mr. Garcia. "Belize is a country blessed with the natural beauty of the reef and the Caribbean Sea. We must all do what it takes to protect them and the creatures which call them home."
The Honorable Mark Espat, Minister of Tourism, followed with the keynote
address. "Tourism can be the engine for the growth of our country," he
said. "Conservation is the key for attracting tourism to our
country, so I encourage all of us to do the best that we can to conserve this
natural beauty which has been given to us."
Other speakers at the event were Gabriel Jacome of the Smithsonian Institute and Janet Gibson of the Coastal Zone Management Programme. Mr. George Myvett of the Fisheries Department gave the thank you address. Afterwards, snacks and refreshments were offered while the doors of the exhibit opened to the public.
The bilingual exhibit was comprised of information stalls, standing displays with lots of pictures and video clippings of the reef's environment. The purpose of the exhibit was to create awareness and educate people about the importance of our reef. Information was also presented in pamphlets and a tour of the exhibit can also be arranged.
The reef exhibit made its inauguration in Panama at the International Coral
Reef Congress in 1996. From there it has traveled to Honduras, Puerto Rico,
U.S.A. and Jamaica. The exhibit will remain in display at the St. John's
Junior College Gymnasium until December 18th, 1998, when it will travel to Belmopan and then on to Corozal Town. The
Reef Exhibit will move to Mexico and then to Venezuela, South America.
Organizers plan to showcase the exhibit to other countries, whose dates have not
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