San Pedro Tour Guides obtain grant

The San Pedro Tourist Guide Association held a brief but very important ceremony on Wednesday, December 16th, 1998 at the San Pedro Town Hall.

Mr. Billy Leslie, Vice-Chairman of the SPTGA opened the meeting by welcoming special guests to the meeting, Mr. Phillip Balderamos of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Coordinator of GEF small grants programme and Mrs. Velda Aguet, Chairperson for small grants programme. President of the San Pedro Tourist Guide Association, Mr. Daniel Guerrero then gave a quick background of the organization mentioning that it was the largest and oldest of its type in Belize with its membership being over 225. He went on by saying that the organization has served as a model for other similar organizations in promoting the sustainable development of the eco-tourism industry. The SPTGA played an important role in the development and implementation of Statutory Instrument 80 of 1994, which made Tour-guiding a legally licensed activity. The organization has also worked closely with other organizations like Hol Chan Marine Reserve and GreenReef. They have deployed several mooring buoys to assist in the protection of the reef and for deploying buoys for the "No-Wake Zone" in San Pedro. This project was first of its kind anywhere in the country. The primary goal of the Association is to promote the sustainable growth of the eco-tourism industy, through the prudent utilization of the natural resources in particular the marine and coastal resources, on which the industy relies. Mr. Guerrero also took time to give special thanks to Mr. James Azueta and Mr. Richard (Ritchie) Woods for their assistance in drafting up the proposal for their newest project.

The San Pedro Tourist Guide Association has come up with a project called Slackchwe Habitat Enhancement Project and a proposal was submitted to the GEF small grants programme. Reef balls were chosen for the habitat enhancement project. These reef balls will be deployed in a pre-identified area with the assistance of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the Fisheries Department, GreenReef and other agencies. Mr. John Forman, Secretary of the SPTGA then went on to explain some of the objectives of the project. He mentioned that the SPTGA, being a proponent of sustainable tourism development, has as one of their main objectives to relieve some of the current pressure on the reef. The activities proposed by the project proponent have the following main objectives:

(a) habitat enhancement
(b) fish stock improvement
(c) relief of pressure on reef and the Hol Chan Marine Reserve
(d) non-commercial food source for locals
(e) recreational fishing activity (catch and release) for locals and foreigners/tourists
(f) increase economic benefits to locals
(g) conservation of traditional fishing activities
(h) serve as a basis for data gathering research on fish population dynamics and a micro-marine ecosystem development for future reference and
(i) provide an element of training for tour guides and an element for environmental education.
Mr. Forman thanked the Area Representative, Hon. Patty Arceo for her support and Mr. Balderamos for making this project a reality. Forman said, "This is a community based project and I hope to get the community involved."

Mr. Balderamos then introduced Mrs. Aguet of small grants programme to deliver the first dispersement check of $35,000 from their $80,000 grant. Mr. Balderamos encouraged the members to support the committee. He anticipates the new technology to be successful and encouraged fishing guides to respect and protect the new project so it can benefit everyone.

Hon. Patty Arceo officially closed the ceremony by congratulating the San Pedro Tourist Guide Association thanking everyone involved in making this wonderful project a reality.

San Pedro Tour Guides obtain grant

Copyright San Pedro Sun. Design by Casado Internet Group

San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News