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tacogirl Features Volunteer Belize

Putting Their Hearts into Positive Changes for Residents and Tourists

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When it comes to living in a young country, we must keep in mind that its challenges are unique, because it still carving a path into the modern world and still very “wild west” at the same time. Take a moment and imagine what Canada or the USA was like when they were only 36 years old. Both were faced with greatly different challenges than they are today. 

It is not easy to navigate the “obstacle course” as the country and individual areas grow, especially on Ambergris Caye, the top vacation destination in Belize. The island is definitely a grassroots place where groups of community and business members have the ability to forge new territory and “move mountains” if they choose to. 

As a girl who loves thinking outside the box, I have been very impressed with the Belize Tourism Industry Association San Pedro Chapter (SPBTIA), currently led by Tamara Sniffin and populated with many great San Pedro businesses and individuals. You may remember I was over the top excited about the Belize Tourism Industry Association Membership Mixer held upstairs at El Divino. That was when their large heavy metal garbage removal part of their ongoing sustainable waste management plan was officially announced. This is being headed by volunteer member Dianne Lawrence and an intern from the US.

It is no secret we have a garbage problem on this island. Many of us have been photographing and videoing it for a very long time – myself since 2007. A big round of applause to the SPBTIA for coming up with an intelligent creative solution to putting our youth on the task. I also applaud the faculty at San Pedro Junior College for embracing the idea and running with it. They saw how learning to process large-object garbage removal for the entire island could be easily adapted into the college curriculum. 

Impressed Again by the SPBTIA

Once again the Belize Tourism Industry Association San Pedro Chapter is showing their capability through the process of setting clear-cut goals to benefit the community and thoughtfully work towards turning them into reality. 

The SPBTIA has been actively listening to and recording data from peoples input and concerns in regards to what would benefit the community. Using this data they were able to work with officials and help them see what changes need to be made and why.

  • In order to lobby for better responses to the needs of our community as it pertains to criminal activities, the San Pedro BTIA officials and volunteers have been working with GOB cabinet members. So far they have reached out to Minister of National Security, John Saldivar; Minister of Tourism, Manual Heredia and Civil Aviation; along with San Pedro Mayor, Daniel Guerrero; the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams and Officer in Charge Henry Jemmott. 
  • Sponsored by the San Pedro Chapter of the BTIA, and the National Belize Tourism Industry Association this past June, “For the Love of San Pedro,” rally was a great success in regards to fighting crime and getting concerns out in the open.
  • As of July 2nd, the San Pedro Fire department also benefits from a new Officer in Charge, Gladstone Bucknor thanks to members of the SPBTIA along with other local officials for making it happen. 
  • The SPBTIA aided the National BTIA have successfully lobbied for changes within the Ambergris Caye police force. Newly selected Officer in Charge, Reymundo Reyes started his position on July 2nd. In addition, a new magistrate will begin her duties on August 1st, 2018.

Other Crime Fighting Initiatives

Individuals that volunteered for the Special Constable Program are in the process of being contacted by the SPBTIA organization. They will be taught and overseen by Reymundo Reyes. The goal is to have the community working alongside the police force to improve safety on Ambergris Caye.

They are actively working on forming sustainable neighborhood watch groups in areas without and especially ones in need. The SPBTIA and Ambergris Caye police force are also reaching out to support existing neighborhood watch programs.

Strength in Numbers

When acting Membership Coordinator Jackie Feldman reached out to me the other day, I told her that I was not sure whether I would be able to attend the meeting or not but I was definitely behind the organization and willing to help promote it. 

If you love Ambergris Caye and I know that is a huge group of you, then please do what you can to show your support for the SPBTIA. With a track record as above, it is pretty much guaranteed that future initiatives will also be successful. This group knows how to work together, take action and make great things happen.

Four ways you can help no matter where you are

Working hard for both residents and stakeholders to strengthen tourism on Ambergris Caye and countrywide Belize, both the BTIA and the SPBTIA appreciate all the support they a getting. From the community right on up the line as Government officials welcome their ideas and assist on plans for building a safer country. This is an organization worth helping and below you will see a few ways to do it.

1. Stay informed about their initiatives and successes by liking the BTIA and SPBTIA Facebook page.
2. Go to BTIA website to learn more about the group efforts countrywide by chapter, and see how the membership fee for joining the San Pedro Chapter will benefit the island.
3. Attend the meeting tomorrow night (Tuesday, July 31st) at 7:00 PM at El Divino Restaurant located at Banana Beach Resort.
4. Become a member of the BTIA. There is clearly strength in numbers, the membership form is on the website or you can join at the meeting on the July 31st. Requirements to join: Desire assist crime-fighting superheroes, love Belize and want to support all the amazing work mentioned above. 

Additional information on the BTIA

The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that operates within Belize to help bridge the gap between tourism interests and the challenges that the industry may bring to communities. As an NGO, the BTIA is a volunteer agency and is separate from the Belize Tourism Board (BTB).

Featured Image

Pelican picture submitted by Dave Strothmann from Colorado. Taken on his 2018 trip with his wife. He is an avid bird photographer when vacationing on Ambergris Caye.

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