San Pedro Tour Guide Association Forging Alliances

The San Pedro Tour Guide Association (SPTGA) board of directors has been pursuing an aggressive agenda this past month, they have met with many of San Pedro's organizations that are involved in and represent the tourism industry. President of the Tour Guides, Daniel Guerrero explained, "Tourism is as fragile as the reef itself, if tourism is damaged - it's over for everyone." He went on to say that all segments of the industry must work together to improve the tourism product and to deal with the problems that surface from time to time.

Guerrero is particularly interested in seeing effective implementation Statutory Instrument No. 80 that requires all tourist guides to be licenced with the Belize Tourist Board. The deadline for tour guides to register to be licenced is October 31, 1996. Enforcement of the S.I. 80 will begin on November 1, 1996.

At a recent meeting held with the board of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) the tour guides offered a list of names and telephone numbers of the licenced guides to all of San Pedro's hoteliers so that hotel staffs will be able to book tours with licensed guides. The guides also requested that the hotels purchase signs that notify the public that the Belize Tourist Board requires all guides to be licenced and to display their licences prominently to their clients. Also discussed at the BTIA/SPTGA meeting was the need to work together to establish a visitor's information center in San Pedro, a joint effort to promote Ambergris Caye at DEMA (the premier dive show of the industry) and joint marketing through the BTB office in New York. Both groups agreed to cooperate financially together to achieve the goals.

The tour guides specifically asked the staff and management of Hol Chan Marine Reserve to establish a check point and assist in enforcing the licence requirement, and to enforce the regulations of the National Park. Hol Chan National Park Regulations state that there must be one guide for every eight persons (snorkelers and divers). At present there are larger groups entering the waters with only one guide. The guides also requested Hol Chan to begin stationing "under water" rangers at least once a week in the reserve to monitor visitors and guides, a move they feel will minimize damage to the coral. Hol Chan agreed to assist, and also informed the association that draft legislation will be presented shortly to include Shark Ray Alley in the National Park.

President Guerrero reported that their meeting with Assistant Inspector Dean Lozano and the San Pedro Police Department and Civilian Constables and Crime Committee was very successful and one of mutual cooperation. Last year the police confiscated a Mexican lanchon, which has been beached in front of the police station. The tour guides have offered to repair, fiberglass and paint the lanchon and put an engine on it making it operable for police patrols. Francis Leslie has offered to complete the repairs and fiberglassing; Nano Guerrero is in charge of locating an engine. Leslie and Guerrero have also offered to paint the Crime Committee boat and repair its broken motor. In return, the police and the crime committee will be checking licences and patrolling the no-wake zone on the seaside and in the lagoon. Guerrero, with regard to the no-wake zone, said that the tour guides would be sending letters to jet ski operators informing them that the no-wake zone will be enforced and businesses must inform persons renting the jet skis of the zone and that violators will be cited if they commit an offence.

Guerrero said that the committee has further meetings scheduled with the San Pedro Town Board, the Port Authority, the Attorney General and the Ministry of Tourism in their effort to work together to improve tourism.

The committee expressed its appreciation and thanks to all the agencies it has met with and looks forward to working together in tourism.

San Pedro Sun

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