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Jul 29, 2004

Tourism industry prepares for hurricane

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The scientists said it would be an active hurricane season, but here we are on the edge of August and not a named storm yet. Don?t worry, our recent history is still fresh enough to prevent complacency, and today one group of Belizeans was learning to prepare for the worst. Jacqueline Woods reports.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

According to the Belize Tourism Industry Association, B.T.I.A. has not yet conducted a comprehensive survey to see how hurricanes have affected their members, but pictures of San Pedro after Hurricane Keith and Placencia following Iris show that tourist facilities bore a major share of the destruction.

Andrew Godoy, Executive Director, B.T.I.A.

?The response we have gotten after the 2001 hurricane that hit the southern part of Belize, we have had tremendous response from members and we know that the hurricane really devastated areas such as Placencia and since then this has always been something we?ve wanted to do in terms of training for the industry.?

That interest was demonstrated today when a large number of persons in both the public and private sectors came together for one day to be prepare for what is predicted to be yet another busy hurricane season. The workshop conductor, Deirdre Shurland, is Director of the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, CAST.

Deirdre Shurland, Director, CAST

?Are you surprised that only one participant is familiar with Belize?s National Emergency Management Plan? I may have pretended to be but no I am not surprise because that?s fairly typical around the region. Remember this is a new exercise for many of the national emergency management organizations in each of the countries that came together rising, largely rising out of the efforts of USAID, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agencies, CEDERA based in Barbados dating back right after Mitch in 1998 perhaps a little earlier and they reported in 2000 and out of that effort that I mentioned funded by USAID, you had a lot of the territories, the countries in the region beginning to organize in order to respond more effectively to hurricanes.?

Shurland says depending on the level of devastation based on past experiences in the Caribbean, businesses recover fairly well following a natural disaster. It?s that message she has been sharing with the participants and what measures they can take that would make it easier for them to return to normal.

Deidre Shurland

?When you speak to somebody who ahs been through a hurricane they understand what it means. So going through that experience makes you more prepared and makes you want to be prepared. I mean I don?t think we should have to wait until the devastation to come upon us. That?s why it was so important to present the structure of hurricanes, how devastating they can be, the various categories of hurricanes as we went through this morning and to show some pictures of devastation so that it is fresh in our minds every hurricane season what is possible even here in Belize.?

Andrew Godoy

?One of the objectives of this workshop is to help them develop a plan, an action plan so that they will have in place should a hurricane hit. This is just the first part of the workshop. The second part is to set a day aside, we have marked tomorrow as the day that when they would actually carry out the plan.?

This evening News 5 was informed by the B.T.I.A. that they

will go ahead and observe hurricane Awareness day on Friday. Therefore, they are asking all members to observe the occasion by reviewing and practicing their plans of action.

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