Belize Tourism Board Revises Master Plan in Response to Pandemic: Adjustments Aim to Boost Tourism Recovery

Belize Tourism Board Revises Master Plan in Response to Pandemic: Adjustments Aim to Boost Tourism Recovery

The Belize Tourism Board is has revised its tourism master plan for the country.  The plan was devised back in 2018, but due to changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, they were forced to tweak certain areas of the plan.  AbIl Castaneda, Chief Tourism Officer, was part of a BTB team that appeared on The Morning Show yesterday to outline the aims and objectives of the plan.

Abil Castaneda, Chief Tourism Officer, Ministry of Tourism: “The reason we did this update of this master plan was because of the shock that COVID brought and one of the shocks that it did bring and we’re still sort of reeling from those effects is the whole impact on human resources. Many people that worked decades in the industry had to find something else to do unfortunately and some of them have come back but many of them have not and the whole impact of the BPO sector and all of that. So what that means now is that you have a lot of newer young people coming into the industry and the question is do they have that level of awareness and appreciation of value of what tourism really means and I think that is growing but we need to meet, as director mentioned, them half way in being able to provide to them training which sort of orients them what type of tourism we want to provide. When we did this update recently we found that the original master plan that was brought into play around 2011 the stakeholders told us that that is still very much relevant, the vision, the objective of all of that we still believe in that and that is because it was based on sustainable tourism. So the ethos of where we want to go forward is sort of enshrined in that. We want to continue on the path towards sustainability but work in progress and I think that that’s just part of the nature of the industry today. It’s not only us here in Belize dealing with the fact that we’re having a lot of newer young people into the industry it’s everywhere and I think we just need to meet them halfway.”

According to Castaneda, one of the revisions made to the plan was the inclusion of other sectors including agriculture, vocational education, among others.

Abil Castaneda, Chief Tourism Officer, Ministry of Tourism: “The updated plan is strong on creating functional linkages between industries and also spatial linkages. Now what that means is that one of the things we found in the review of the master plan and in speaking with our stakeholders and then looking at the context of where Belize is moving towards the master plan recommends a strong sort of focus on the development of our gateways and urban areas and within those gateways and urban areas it speaks to not only the infrastructure that is needed but it speaks to now developing these types of industries, the culinary and the culture and integrating it into what the urbanscape is really about. So there are recommendations in there as CEO mentioned first and foremost at the governance level where there is further integration with other industries. So last year the there was a tourism advisory council that was established which is across all the key ministries relating to tourism and that council will serve as an integrating and coordinating body for us to ensure that we are listening to other industries, to other sectors so that tourism can be a partner in all of it. But beyond that then it gets into the destination level where we do need to begin to look at each one of our urban areas starting here in the city because this is the main hub, the main gateway and building the urbanscape and urban experience that is kind of what is missing, that’s kind of one of the main pillars of the updated master plan.”

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