BTB launches Belize Dive Map in San Pedro
Friday, November 23rd, 2012
First of two vessels also donated to Fisheries Department
On Friday, November 16th the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) launched the first countrywide dive map, entitled “A Village Community Dive Map,” featuring all of the dive sites within our Belizean waters. In addition, BTB took the opportunity to donate a small vessel to the Belize Fisheries Department that will be used to help manage the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve on northern Ambergris Caye. The event took place on the beach in front of the Holiday Hotel in San Pedro Town. In attendance were several stakeholders in the tourism industry.
Director of Destination Planning for the BTB, Kevin Gonzalez, explained that putting the dive map together was a lengthy process that included input from various stakeholders in the industry. “If you look at [the map] you will see that each dive site shown on the map has a description, which is important. It has information as to what you are going to see at the site, the depth of the dive and other vital information that is special about the dive site. The dive map covers the entire country,” explained Gonzalez in an interview with The San Pedro Sun. Gonzalez further stated that the dive map had the input of various tour guide associations, including those in southern Belize and was compiled with the assistance of Gordon Kirkwood who has dived at all of the sites on the map and is an experienced writer.
Gonzalez went on to say that all dive shops across the country will get an amount at no cost and if they need additional maps, it will be available for sale at all BTB offices countrywide. The map is printed on durable, waterproof synthetic paper that will hold up against the natural elements while at sea.
Speaking on the donation of the boat to the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve through the Fisheries Department, Gonzalez said, “The boat was a counterpart contribution to the Sustainable Tourism Project (STP) which is also doing the Saca Chispas Project…BTB decided to support the Bacalar Chico Park with a boat because we felt it was something they needed at an early stage in terms of enforcement and other things. Not only do park employees enforce the law but they also conduct fisheries studies, so the boat will also be used for that. The boat will also be used to ferry individuals interested in supporting the park; particularly at this juncture where we are working on making the park more attractive to visitors.” The 25 foot Wahoo boat was designed and constructed by Captain Shark’s in San Pedro Town and has two 115-stroke Suzuki engines and is estimated at a value of approximately $150,000BZ. According to Gonzalez, the donation of the boat is the first of two vessels that will be acquired by BTB. He also said that the with the use of the vessel, the marine reserve will be better able to address the urgent need for transportation to help with patrols against illicit activities in the area, including poaching within the marine reserve. At hand to receive the keys to the boat from the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Hon. Manuel Heredia JR was Henry Brown from the Fisheries Department.
Other invited guests included the Mayor of San Pedro Daniel Guerrero and various tour guides from the different tour companies on the island. Following the short ceremony, those in attendance were invited to view the dive maps and also the vessel while enjoying a wonderful beach cocktail reception hosted by Caprice Bar & Grille.