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Dec 3, 2020

B.T.I.A. Holds 35th A.G.M. Virtually; What’s Next for Tourism in Belize?

Charting a new course for Belize’s tourism industry amid the ravaging economic effects of a pandemic is a mammoth undertaking for stakeholders across the private and public sectors.  The Belize Tourism Industry Association which was established in 1985 held its thirty-fifth annual general meeting today where Minister of Tourism Anthony Mahler and Taiwanese Ambassador Remus Li-Kuo Chen were both guest speakers.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the following story.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The state of Belize’s tourism industry is all but flatlined by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The first quarter of 2020 saw visitor arrivals grind to a screeching halt, as the travel and leisure sector was the first and hardest hit by the economic fallout that came with the very widespread disease.  Since April, stakeholders have been working tirelessly, along with the Government of Belize, to resuscitate the industry, despite the existing challenges.

 

Melanie Paz

Melanie Paz, Past President, B.T.I.A.

“One of the first issues we addressed was the financial situation of the industry.  We immediately initiated talks with the Development Finance Corporation to provide low-interest loans and push G.O.B. to seek more concessional funding.  The D.F.C. developed a COVID-19 relief response strategy which included a moratorium for nine months on principal and interest payments for all tourism-related loans and that has now been extended to June 2021.”

 

This morning, the Belize Tourism Industry Association convened its thirty-fifth annual general meeting virtually.  High on the agenda was the way forward for the floundering sector under a new administration.  Delivering his inaugural address as Minister of Tourism was Anthony Mahler.

 

Anthony Mahler

Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism

“Globally, tourism generates three trillion dollars and for Belize, over one billion dollars.  Globally, one in ten jobs, while in Belize one in four jobs.  Globally, approximately two trillion dollars in investments and in Belize that number is over two hundred million.  Globally, ten percent of G.D.P. and in Belize, somewhere around twenty-five percent of G.D.P. directly, and indirectly up to forty percent.  The reality is that tourism is an economic juggernaut and one of the main drivers for growth and development.  But just when we were celebrating some major milestones related to overnight and cruise arrivals, COVID struck.”

 

Notwithstanding the many obstacles that impede a complete economic recovery, what is certain is that Belize is still on call as a prime tourist destination in this region.

 

Anthony Mahler

“As we begin to advance beyond the haze of this pandemic, there is one certainty that remains, demand for Belize is still strong.  Over the last three decades or so, we’ve been able to build a country brand where our core values of environmental and social have served as the bedrock upon which we have seen sustained growth and development in the tourism industry.  We must deviate from our core values but use them as an advantage to separate Belize from other destinations.”

 

At today’s AGM, Stewart Krohn was named the new president of the B.T.I.A.  He also welcomed the new Minister of Tourism.

 

Stewart Krohn

Stewart Krohn, President, B.T.I.A.

“These are serious times and I think from the ministry and on our own board of directors, we’ve got serious people and that’s what it’s gonna require to get out of this situation we’re in.  I have every confidence that the same vigor that our membership is applying to our own properties, we will apply to the B.T.I.A. and I do not have a doubt in my mind that when we have our thirty-sixth annual general meeting a year from now that the mood and the situation is going to be buoyant and we will set our goals and we will accomplish them.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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