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Feb 22, 2012

3rd component of Sustainable Tourism Project launched

With elections two weeks away, a number of projects are being unveiled. This afternoon, the third component of the Sustainable Tourism Project for Belize City was launched. It is called the Fort Point Pedestrian Walk and while it is not an actual pedestrian walk, the project contemplates the transformation of the Memorial Park Area. The five million dollar contract was awarded to International Environments, a company owned by the Arguelles brothers. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

The private and public sectors are joining forces to uplift the Fort George area. Today the Belize Tourism Board’s Sustainable Tourism Project and the Ministry of Tourism officially launched the Fort Point Pedestrian Walk project, the third infrastructure program on the master plan for Belize City.

Christy Mastry

Christy Mastry, Project Director, Sustainable Tourism Project

“It’s a four year commitment or program that, through an IDB loan to the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, with counterpart funding from the B.T.B. has been put together to alleviate destination subject to pressure as well as to help create policies and institutional strengthening to ensure the continuity of this process after these four years.”

Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism

“It is estimated that over three thousand people are employed in the many establishments in the Fort George area and as much as ten thousand people are estimated to enjoy indirect benefits. Five hundred plus individuals reside here and on a monthly basis, it is estimated that more than eight thousand people either drive or walk through on a daily basis.”

The focal point of the project is the Memorial Park, which is to be transformed into the ideal venue for events or simple relaxation. But the development will extend into the streets surrounding the park. STP Director Christy Mastry explained what they are hoping to achieve.

Christy Mastry

“The renovation of the band stand which historically sits behind us today; a trellis walkway that will offer shade and access from the tourism gate all the way to the waterfront, which will now be a drop-off for passengers at the end of the day for bus lines as well as taxi and tour operators; permanent and temporary vending stands; public restrooms; an amphitheatre, which will be created around the renovation of a new stage to accommodate over two hundred seated and up to a thousand standing for events within the park; tour operator parking, especially to accommodate the minivans which surround us here so dedicated at the top of the park, the drop off zone and turnaround at the head of the park; dedicated resident parking.  The streetscape improvements extend to over ten thousand linear feet of covered sidewalks that we would be improving; over five thousand feet of cobble stone roadbed that will start at the foot of the swing bridge, all the way up North Front Street surrounding north and South Park Street and the rest of Cork Street.”

The Fort George area was chosen because it is the first part of the country that most visitors see.

Manuel Heredia

Manuel Heredia

“Currently the majority of users are the cruise visitors, who in the past have not had a positive first impression of Belize. Government recognized the need to rejuvenate the Fort George area so as to enhance the experience of our cruise visitors, overnight visitors as well as our very own residents. Indeed, our hope for this area is to create a welcoming environment for day visitors and to encourage overnight visitors and residents to rediscover and utilize the Fort George area as a venue of entertainment and relaxation.”

Christy Mastry

“As the first line of sight to our country, that often thousands of visitors a day will only see in Belize, this is a great opportunity to capitalize on improving the Belize City visitor experience and the overall image of Belize. We’ll take this opportunity to create a very authentic waterfront experience, to celebrate the war memorial, which is the origin and history of this park; to enhance a more authentic made in Belize arts and crafts opportunity, regulate and ease the circulation and transportation use conflicts within the area and hopefully bring restaurants and shops to a lot of the underutilized properties we see around d today.”

Mariam Roberson

And at today’s groundbreaking, the winning contractor was announced by the B.T.B. Chairlady, Mariam Roberson.

Mariam Roberson, Chairlady, B.T.B.

“I’m glad to see that I.E. has the word environment in their name because I know this is in good hands. And with that said, I would like to say that the International Environments, which is both and architectural firm and a construction firm, is known in the community.  We have seen many of their projects—I don’t think I need to name all of them—from the US Embassy to the Heritage Point, the Coney Drive Matalon Building and many other projects including the northern border.”

The construction will cost an estimated five point four-seven million Belize dollars and the Fort Point Pedestrian Walk project is expected to be completed in about sixteen months. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

Another accomplishment of the Sustainable Tourism Program is the country’s first tourism master plan, which creates roadmaps and budgets to raise the level of service to match price point expectations. The master plan also helps to determine where growth and infrastructure projects are needed in different destinations.

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7 Responses for “3rd component of Sustainable Tourism Project launched”

  1. Marie says:

    Those guys indeed do great and quality work. I never knew what they did until the BTB chairman listed them. I have been to the Belize bank and it is like nothing anywhere in Belize. It is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, well planned and classy-keep it up and make the rest of Belize look like that. I am sure people will try to throw politics into it, but face it-sometimes, the best candidate is also a supporter of a party even if that was the case, but in this instance, it was an IDB project the news said and not GOB awarding it and IDB standards and procedures are still the highest in the world.

  2. belizeanpride says:

    looks good for the poor infrastructures in Belize city for tourist eye view. but hope they finish it and doesn’t stay as a plan but a reality. might change the look of our city.

  3. critical thinker says:

    Marie,

    You missed important points.

    1.) Christy’s previous employer was International Environments (the Arguelles brothers). She might still be holding a side job with them (but that would be speculation, a reasonable one, though).

    2.) Arguelles = hardcore UDP

    3.) The most important one: We only get to see one design. How about proposals from other firms? All design projects for Belize should be put up for contest viewed by the public and judged upon by an independent panel of professionals. AND MAY THE BEST ONE WIN! That is in the best interest of Belize’s investments. Hey, other countries do that by law.

    Sincerely,

    critical thinker

  4. lino says:

    Critical thinker-it is you missing the point-there were other selections that were seen and not only was the best one chosen, but the lowest bid-yet commercials block that portion out of their ads. Stop the hating and jealousy.

  5. critical thinker says:

    lino,

    Don’t be gullible. The process was not done transparently. There are “invisible hands” directing the whole process, even in the IDB-funded projects, whatever the nature of the project. Politicians interfere even in private initiatives, imagine! This is the sad case for Belize. And you are one of the many who conclude issues with the common phrase “hating and jealousy”. There is none of that in me; I’m doing fine in my own field. You should join the efforts of those who are trying to fix the whole system. Open your eyes! Or could it be that you received some business benefit in this one? :)

  6. Khristie says:

    Critical thinker,
    i have to disagree with you, that “there were invisible hand” directing this. i have worked with IDB and believe u when i say that they are a pain in the @$$, in terms of transparency and submitting all the necessary documentation. in fact the STP project has been in the works for the last 4 years and as much as the belizean authorities wanted to rush this process and ” have building inaugurated”, there was a process that was needed to compete to get to this stage. quick speaking ‘of which you do not know or understand.”

  7. Jimmy Criminal says:

    The only thing BTB can do is burn down 99% of the $hit h0le Belize City and start over. Belize City is filthy, ugly and filled with crime. Stay away tourists unless you have a death wish.

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