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Sep 30, 2003

Young entrepreneurs operate horse and carriage

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It’s one of those ideas that prompt people to ask, “why didn’t I think of that?” Well, the subjects of our next story not only thought of it, they actually did it. Patrick Jones reports.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

Long before Belize City was inundated by the roar of SUVs the most common sound in the Old Capital was that of hoof beats on the pavement. And it is just that kind of nostalgia that entrepreneurs Ian Jones and Sheree Young are counting on for the success of Gidiyap, the latest attraction to be added to the national tourism product.

Ian Jones, Proprietor, Gidiyap Horse & Carriage

“Gidiyap Horse and Carriage Tours is a new and exclusive service that me and my business partner are introducing to Belize City for the cruise ship tourists. We cater mostly for the cruise ship tourists, but we also cater for overnight tourists and locals as well. We cater for weddings, proms, Quince Años or any special events that the need would arise for a horse and carriage. If you want that attraction, you can call us and we will be there for you.”

The Gidiyap idea started off as a term paper at S.J.C. Junior College.

Ian Jones, Proprietor, Gidiyap Horse & Carriage

“The initial idea was from my girlfriend, who is also my business partner. She had to do a final project for a business management class, and it was to come up with a business plan.”

Sheree Young, Proprietor, Gidiyap Horse & Carriage

“And so we were sitting down and we were thinking about something that’s not here in Belize. So he said, why don’t we try a horse and carriage? I was kind of little bit reluctant, but then I said it’s a good idea, because it was in the old time days when they used to have horse and carriage and it will be something great and fun to do and bring back to Belize.”

The couple say once they reached agreement on moving the idea from paper to the streets last February, they started to seek funding. After Youth for the Future came through for them, all the other lights started to flash green… and today the first carriage went into service, offering tourists a different view of the City.

Sheree Young

“We take them to see the main historic sites. We start from the Tourism Village. We take them downtown to see the Yarborough Cemetery, the Anglican Cathedral Church, the Government House. Then we go back up the Swing Bridge. We take them over on Queen Street; we take them by Princess, because that’s a very beautiful view. We show them the town clock and then its back by the Tourist Village again.”

But with the city streets becoming increasingly congested with traffic, will the horse and carriage only make things worse?

Ian Jones

“Traffic is already slow and the horse moves at basically the same speed at what traffic moves in rush hour, right. And the horse can go relatively fast, but for safety reason, we just let it trot through the traffic and it keeps up with the traffic it doesn’t really stop any other vehicles. And by the way, other taxi and tour guides who take tourists on city tours are always stopping traffic and slowing down traffic, so it was something that just fit in perfectly.”

While they prefer to keep the value of their investment close to their vests, Young says it will take at least a year before the business can break even. Both Jones and Young are confident that the business will work and they even have a built-in back up plan.

Sheree Young

“The tourists are very particular. They like things that are different, something that they don’t normally see. And everybody is offering vehicular transportation, and we are just offering something different, so I think it will work. And also the locals, the Belizeans, they are very excited about it. So if it doesn’t work out with the tourists, it will work out with the Belizeans also.”

Gidiyap Horse and Carriage Tours is based in the front yard of what used to be Fort Street Guest House. And while only one carriage has been commissioned so far, Young says the plan is to put seven more just like this one, on the streets by year’s end.

By the way, she got an “A” on her term paper. And while its still too early to tell where this idea is headed, we think the couple deserves at least a grade that high for their entrepreneurial effort. Patrick Jones, for News 5.

The tours are offered in different packages starting at twenty U.S. dollars per person. On the weekends, the couple uses the carriage to give rides to children at Animal Park and B.T.L. Park for three dollars per child. Each paying adult receives a free CD-ROM containing images of Belize.

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