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Jun 5, 2006

B.T.B. helps tourism police in anti-crime effort

Story PictureThe last few weeks have been disastrous for Cayo tourism and while the P.R. machinery is working overtime to bolster Belize’s image as a fun and safe place to visit, law enforcement–with a bit of welcome help–is focussing on how to solve the problem on the ground. Alyssa Noble reports.

Caesar Sherrard, Cayo Tour Operator
?They are not your regular guys. They hit a place and then they take bush. They disappear for a week or a few days and then show up some where else, where we are not looking and then they hit again and they take bush again. They?re bush savvy.?

Alyssa Noble, Reporting
These are the sort of bandits, security forces are up against in their attempt to make Belize a safer place to visit. Joining this effort is the Belize Tourism Board, who today donated a brand new vehicle, scooter and communications equipment the Tourism Police Unit of the Police Department.

Godfrey Smith, Minister of Tourism and National Emergency Management
?The reason is basically to put some modest resources from the Belize Tourism Board to the security forces in trying to arrest this situation where we have, apparently bandits across the border reeking havoc upon tourists in Belize and consequently on the industry as a whole. Obviously with the potential of destabilizing the industry, it?s a matter that we have to take very seriously. There are many of Belizeans who earn their living off tourism. It?s a big contributor to the economy and if it is destabilized, then certainly it will have a very negative impact. So I think all Belizeans are obliged and should be willing to contribute or step forward with any information that can help us deal with this situation.?

According to Smith, the single biggest threat to Belize?s largest industry is the prevalence of Crime and in an endeavour to save curb it the B.T.B. is offering a reward.

Godfrey Smith
?The Belize Tourism Board is putting up a reward of twenty-five thousand dollars to be administered and dealt with by the security forces. We hope that it will grow from twenty-five thousand, that is what we are putting up. We hope to be able to encourage other individuals or other organisations in the society, in the tourism industry to pitch in as well so the figure is a bigger figure and hopefully it can lead to some good information that is much needed to deal with this situation.?

And that figure has now grown to fifty-five thousand dollars as the private sector, whose interests has been hit hard, has also put forward a reward some cash along with photos of the prime suspects.

Caesar Sherrard
?We feel like the situation deserves more than just the police and the military. We need the private sector involved. It is our future and tourism is to a large degree sustaining the economy in the Cayo district. And of course it trickles down to the whole country. The whole country is getting a bad name abroad right now, there are travel advisories out and we all need to participate in helping the police and the B.D.F. in apprehending these individuals. The police are working in conjunction with the B.D.F. It?s like a nationwide hunt right now. They are doing a good job. The private sector is concerned. We are working together; we?ve raised funds for a reward. We have a phone number which we can give you indirectly that you can call for this thirty thousand dollar reward. And we will soon apprehend one or two of them which will inevitably lead to the apprehension of the whole gang.?

And the police are no less confident.

Inspector Dezerie Phillips, Officer in Command of Tourism Police Unit
?The persons have been identified. We know who they are, it?s just a matter of getting them apprehended, which the Commissioner has pledged should be shortly.?

Alyssa Noble reporting for News Five.

It may sound confusing but for the twenty-five thousand dollar reward call the nearest police station or the Belize Tourism Board at 223-1913. For the thirty thousand dollar reward call 605-0420 in Belize or 502-5819-2008 in Guatemala. Presumably these two efforts will be combined in the near future.

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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