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Nov 13, 2013

Reef CI received international award for promoting responsible tourism

A local marine conservation organization has been awarded internationally for its role in promoting responsible tourism.  ReefCI, founded by Polly Alford in 2003, operates in the Toledo District and is dedicated to wildlife conservation.  The NGO has been formally recognized by World Travel Market and won in the category of Best for Responsible Wildlife Experiences during the World Responsible Tourism Awards held in the United Kingdom.  News Five spoke with Alford today and she told us that she is overwhelmed by the recognition Belize is receiving as a tourist destination.

 

Via Phone: Polly Alford, Founder, ReefCI

“The award is sponsored by Responsible Travel and it’s held at the WTM which is the World Travel Market Expo in London.  It’s on its tenth year, it’s a global award with more than a thousand nominees this year and we got highly commended and were in the top three.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“For which category?”

 

Via Phone: Polly Alford

“The category was for the Best for Responsible Wildlife Experiences.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Talk to us a bit about your business, your organization.  When was it established here in Belize and what is its mission?”

 

Via Phone: Polly Alford

“ReefCI was established or it was actually formed in 2003, October 2003, so we’re ten years old too and we started operating in Belize in July 2004 and the mission is we’re a marine conservation organization but we don’t rely on funding.  So we’re not for profit and we have guests that come and stay with us and they help us with our conservation initiatives and in return we give them a really nice holiday.  So we’re not really so much a volunteer organization because we can’t sustain what we do without them coming to us.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What does this global recognition mean for ReefCI, as well as for Belize?”

 

Via Phone: Polly Alford

“It’s fantastic for us because being in the top three for a big global award for a small organization like ReefCI means that it gives us some recognition.  It also means that it’s not just for ReefCI but it’s also for Belize and the Toledo District in particular.  Toledo is like the hidden jewel of the south and we’re hoping that this award will help increase tourism for local hotels, not just for us as an organization but for other local hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, operator and tour guides and of course the upside to that is that there is an increase in revenue for local suppliers, our taxis, our street vendors and our stores.”

 

ReefCI is currently working with the Fisheries Department to help protect the marine life and sustain fish stock and fishing.

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