BTIA Meets with Tourism Minister, Racism Condemned....
"...Some members unfairly and maliciously singled out by the media...." says BTIA

The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) held their mid-year Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, December 11, 1996. (See article elsewhere on this page.) One of the items of discussion was the current status of the board of the BTIA and the results of the extraordinary general meeting which was held on November 23rd.

The November 23rd meeting resulted in the resignation of President J. Murray Arnold. Some of the media in Belize printed or aired some unusual versions of the event. These one-sided, highly interpretive versions are addressed by the BTIA press release that follows. The BTIA press release does not specify which media houses they are discussing, issuing a banket statement that lumps all media together. This is not the case and is further explained by the observations of BTIA member Marguerite Bevis. Her comments follow the BTIA press release.

BTIA Board Meets With Tourism Minister

Press Release - BTIA - On Wednesday December 4th, 1996 the Board of the Belize Tourism Industry Association including district and sector representatives met with the Honorable Henry Young, Minister of Tourism and the Environment. Vital industry needs were discussed, among them, the need for more competitive pricing in international airfares, electricity and telephone rates, the need for continued industry regulation, and the need of a unified development plan for tourism. BTIA officials support the Ministry's view that the current airport improvements is adequate at this time with the prioritization of filling existing accommodations year round, further airport expansion at this time needs careful consideration on additional burden to the economy and is not a decision to be taken rashly. BTIA and the Ministry agreed to undertake lobbying efforts with international airlines and the utility companies to reduce cost of product in tourism operations. In marketing strategy, both parties are in agreement that cooperative programmes, targeting of the European market, educational symposiums and value incentives are activities to boost arrivals in the low season.

In support of the Industry, Minister Young continues his lobbying efforts for more items to be zero rated from Value Added Tax including considerations of BTIA's request for VAT and import duty exemption on advertising and promotional materials for the tourism industry.

Minister Young and Belize Tourist Board Director, Kevin Gonzales informed that funding has been secured for the drafting of a new tourism development plan. Canadian and Belizean counterparts will work jointly to dialogue with all the stakeholders in the industry to develop a comprehensive tourism plan for Belize. Following the tour operators legislation signed into law yesterday, the BTB is finalizing amendments to the Hotel act which for the first time addresses minimum standards for this sector of the industry. Minister Young and the BTIA have agreed to a further meeting to look in-depth at the Belize Tourism Expo-BETEX '97 and the management of the Marine Terminal and Museum in Belize City.

Public and private sector tourism officials were unanimous in their concern at the negative impact caused by the reckless statements and misinformation about the tourism industry appearing in the media and the press recently. Both BTIA and the Ministry reiterate the Government of Belize's intolerance of racism in all its forms, and support the country's foreign investment policy which welcomes responsible tourism development. Minister Young was informed that BTIA Board of Directors supports its members who were unfairly and maliciously singled out by the media.

The Belize Tourism Industry Association, a voluntary membership private sector association founded on democratic and ethical principle, welcomes all persons involved in tourism to join the association and assist in lobbying for tangible benefits for the industry.

BTIA takes this opportunity to invite all members, prospective members and the public to its semi-annual General Meeting December 11, 1996 at 10 a.m. at the Chateau Caribbean in Belize City.

End of Press Release

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