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Jan 24, 2008

B.T.B. moves into new Regent Street headquarters

Story PictureWith its own healthy revenues from hotel taxes and little official oversight, the Belize Tourism Board is the envy of many less well endowed government institutions. Today the B.T.B. invited the public to see how it was spending some of that money. News Five’s Kendra Griffith reports.

This afternoon the Belize Tourism Board officially inaugurated its new headquarters located at 64 Regent Street.

According to board chairman, Martin Marshalleck, today’s ceremony brings an end to almost three decades of moving and renting.

Martin Marshalleck, Board Chair, B.T.B.
“Since 1991, the government office responsible for tourism has occupied approximately five different offices around Belize city. These included the Church building, the Center Point building on North front Street the New Horizon building on the Northern Highway and we even sought lodging in the Central Bank of Belize building. More specifically, however, since the S.I. was passed and the Government Tourism Bureau became a full statutory body in 1990 the board’s office was located some three to four properties up Regent Street and thus my reason for saying we have come full circle. Right where the board originally had its offices. How fitting an appropriate after some twenty-seven years as a nomad.”

The seven thousand square foot structure was originally built in 1958 and acquired by the B.T.B. in 2006 at a cost of one point three million dollars. Another one point five million dollars was spent turning the building into what it is today.

Martin Marshalleck
“This accomplishment compliments our organisational vision, commitment and shared goals towards developing Belize’s tourism industry. It celebrates ownership of a long waited and much needed permanent headquarters for an organisation that traditionally focussed on the immediate needs of the industry rather than on its own operational needs. And so today we take pride in sharing with you and accomplishment that will allow us to further strengthen our organisational capabilities.”

And while the recent trend is for businesses to relocate to the less congested outlying areas of the city, for Minister of Tourism Godfrey Smith, the downtown location is a good fit for the B.T.B.

Godfrey Smith, Minister of Tourism
“I have been asked from time to time, why are you putting your wonderful, beautiful headquarters in downtown Belize City, which definatley everybody agrees needs a lot of upgrading, a lot of refurbishment. And the answer to that simply is: for the very reason that you said, the Belize City downtown area is, quite frankly, a bit rundown and it needs some upgrading. I think it is important, my friends, that the building be here simply because tourism is so vitally important to the country and Belize City is also vitally important. The social and economic stability of the country, resides whether we like it or not in Belize City.”

The building is fittingly dedicated in honour of tourism pioneer Jean Shaw who passed away in 1999 and whose Hotel Mopan is located up the street.

Tracy Taegar-Panton, Director of Tourism
“She personified an unwavering determination to succeed and so this afternoon as we officially designate and install the permanent home of the Belize Tourism Board, we honour Mrs. Shaw and her contributions to the growth and development of tourism. It is, Jeanie and Tommy, with a tremendous amount of pride, sincere gratitude, profound respect and deep love that the B.T.B., on behalf of all our tourism partners countrywide, dedicate these headquarters in memory of Jean Ursula Shaw, a true daughter of the soil and a forever champion of Belize.”

Shaw’s portrait was painted by her daughter Jeannie and will hang in the conference room of the building. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

The headquarters were designed and constructed by Vision Builders who were chosen by a public competition. According to Marshalleck, the property came with another building which they are also planning to renovate.

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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