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Sep 7, 2005

I.D.B. and B.T.B. sign contract to help small enterprises

Story PictureThe last time the Belize Tourism Board and Inter-American Development Bank collaborated, the result was a major renovation of Belize’s ancient Maya sites just in time for the nation’s boom in cruise tourism. This time around the B.T.B. and I.D.B. are looking to build on that success with an initiative that seeks to upgrade the skills of those small scale enterprises and people who provide goods and services to the industry. Today at the new B.T.B. headquarters on the Northern Highway the contract was signed for the three-year project, which is valued at eight hundred and thirty-three thousand U.S. dollars. Five hundred and eighty thousand of that amount is a grant from the I.D.B.’s Multilateral Investment Fund, with the rest of the finance, both cash and in-kind, provided by the B.T.B. and Belize Tourism Industry Association, which is coordinating the effort. In his remarks at the signing, Minister of Tourism Godfrey Smith acknowledged that while overnight tourism will always remain the backbone of the industry, there is good reason to nurture the growing cruise sector.

Godfrey Smith, Minister of Tourism
“Strategically, we know that for the growth of the industry, the strategy has to be in terms of overnight. But for right now, the attention you see us giving to cruise is because it’s a young industry, it has a pivotal role to play. It is the belief of the government that it has the potential to impact a broad cross-section of people. You merely have to walk the streets of Belize to see that from hair-braiders to taxi operators to tour operators and so on. As Rodrigo has stated, this project is important because basically, it’s designed to benefit ordinary folks, small people who are working in the cruise industry. It is designed to, in a practical way, no lot of consultation and theory, designed exercises that will train them in building their managerial competence, how to operate their small business. It will help them through market research to identify actual products, cottage industry products that are in demand. It’s not just that we’ll say, we’ll train you and then try to sell what you can.”

Smith estimated that cruise tourism would level off in a few years at around one million passengers per year and that in terms of revenue, the cruise sector would represent around twenty percent of total tourism receipts with overnight tourists generating eighty percent.


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