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Dec 1, 2016

B.T.I.A.’s A.G.M. is Call to Arms for Tourism Industry

The Belize Tourism Industry Association was established thirty-one years ago to represent the sector’s developers and service providers. It has presided over the explosion of the tourism industry into Belize’s leading industry, providing jobs to at least a quarter of the population and bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign exchange. But even as the numbers keep piling up for cruise and overnight tourist arrivals and more and more are finding out about what used to be Mother Nature’s best kept secret, the sector faces rising challenges of higher costs of business and crime and governmental corruption that keep Belize from reaching maximum potential. These and other matters were discussed at today’s Annual General Meeting at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel where the president and vice-president of the organization were unanimously re-elected. Aaron Humes has more from the Biltmore.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

The thirty-first Annual General Meeting of the Belize Tourism Industry Association held at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel was highlighted by the re-election of Osmany Salas and Reynaldo Guerrero to a second two-year term each as president and vice-president, respectively. The returning Salas said keeping the organization active and relevant in key tourism destinations and expanding into others remains a priority.

 

Osmany Salas

Osmany Salas, President, B.T.I.A.

“We have ten destination chapters and as we move forward, I hope to grow that by one, to reactivate a Belize City chapter, because we have a lot of properties in the Belize City area and we do not have a chapter to represent them. A major goal for our organization in the New Year, will be to complete our strategic plan, because there are many challenges ahead, there are many opportunities; and we as an Association need to plan strategically for the role we will play in confronting those challenges and making the most of the opportunities.”

 

The President of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nikita Usher, was guest speaker, focusing on the economic situation and how private sector stakeholders can best hold Government moving forward to their promises of a less corrupt, more participatory administration. After a lengthy review of the recent International Monetary Fund Article IV Consultation Report as it relates to Belize’s economic woes, Usher stated that the effects of past missteps by all have resulted in the present malaise and future uncertainty. His solution: we all need to start making the right decisions.

 

Nikita Usher

Nikita Usher, President, Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry

“The greatest need we have as a country is to begin to make and take the right decisions. As much as at the Government level, as in the private sector; as in the Judiciary; as in the centers of learning; as in the N.G.O.’s; in the churches; in the unions; and in our homes, and as a society at large. Decisions not only for today, but  for tomorrow and for the future; decisions not only for short-term gains, but rather for long-term rewards; decisions for the benefit of not a few, but rather for the greater populace; decisions not based on color, religion, politics; but rather vision, and mission and the core values of Belize herself.”

 

Calling for a look at more help for secondary industries and tax relief for businesses, Usher said Belize will benefit from a future in which all can show off their best work.

 

Nikita Usher

“We all live in this wonderful country, and we are all proud to show her off to our visitors. Now, we must all work together to create the growth that we need, that will enable the people to benefit even more and for those benefits to be felt throughout all levels of the economy and for generations to come. This is not an easy task, but it is not impossible either. But you who have this dynamic industry from scratch, and we hope that you continue to walk it with us, in the name of sustainable development.”

 

In light of the economic challenges, Executive Director of the Association, John Burgos, said about the Association’s plans for 2017 that it is important to protect all its members.

 

John Burgos

John Burgos, Executive Director, B.T.I.A.

“We want to have a holistic presentation at a national level, and at destination level. So when we are looking at Corozal, we’re not only looking at Corozal Town; we’re looking at Corozal, the entire district – so we want to hear from Chunox, Copper Bank, Sarteneja, Libertad, San Joaquin; those are big villages that have a lot of value and services that they can add to the tourism industry within the destination, and to what the BTIA does nationally. So that is the idea within all the chapters, and that is what we are going to promote; and of course the services and benefits that we render, it is so limitless in terms of being able to – you don’t have to be a big resort; you don’t have to be a big hotel; you can be a small bed and breakfast, you can be a small little restaurant, you can be an artisan, you can do some carvings – that is the range of our membership. So we just want to continue expressing that one of the key things we are focusing on to encourage people to sign on is that we would like to increase the number of benefits that we get. And of course our membership fee is very accessible, so we would like for them to reach out to the different chapters or come to the national secretariat, so that we can provide in detail what these benefits are and what they can look forward to into 2017.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

Stewart Krohn of Coco Plum in Placencia continues as second vice president; Pedro Perez as treasurer; and Mike Green as secretary of the B.T.I.A. Board, in addition to the regional representatives. Their positions are up for election at the next A.G.M.

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