Belize will be an official participant in EXPO 2000, the first World's Fair of the Third Millenium, opening June 1, 2000 in Hanover, Germany. With 175 countries signed up as of May 31,1999, EXPO 2000 will be the largest EXPO in history. Belize is one of the six Central American countries which will occupy a pavilion in the Latin American section. Only the pavilion of the fourteen Caribbean countries is larger. Belize's National Day is to be celebrated on September 15, 2000. Hon. Mark Espat, Minister of Tourism is planning a stellar presentation to support the EXPO 2000 theme of "Humankind, Nature, Technology".
A committee has been formed by the Ministry of Tourism to oversee the planning and implementation. Under the leadership of Ms. Marian McNab and Mr. Deon Pascascio, the committee includes Ms. Valerie Woods, Director of the Belize Tourism Board, Ms. Diana Locke, Director of Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jose Novelo, Investment Promotional Services, Ms. Beverly Smith-Lopez, Director of National Arts Council, Mr. Roberto Harrison, Ministry of Agriculture and Mr. Allan Moore, Acting Archaeological Commissioner.
So far, plans include the contribution of materials from the Central American Pavilion from the Belize Tourism Board, National Arts Council and the Department of Archaeology. Belize will be represented on a continuous basis throughout the five-month period of the EXPO. A rotating cadre of three will travel to Germany, man the Belize section of the Pavilion, greet visitors, display the artifacts, wares, publications and sell Belize's indigenous products. A Belize dance troupe and Andy Palacio will perform in Hanover on the National Day. Budgets are to be supported, in the main, by contributions from the European Union and the Government of Belize.
The crying need at present is sponsorship. The business sector and Belize communities are urged to join up; to offer financial support or, at least as important, to offer personnel to be permanent party in Hanover. Though it seems far off at the moment, and though we do best under last minute pressure, the nature of this unique participation by Belize in EXPO 2000 requires forethought and planning. Sponsorship should be on everybody's agenda immediately.
At least one million visitors will pass through the Central American Pavilion at EXPO 2000 and will be exposed to Belize. Many will be travelers learning of Belize as a new destination. Many will be business people looking for new products from Belize to distribute. Participation in EXPO 2000 is an exciting opportunity to jump start the new millennium for Belize.
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