BTIA San Pedro Chapter hosts membership mixer

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

In an effort to revive membership, the Belize Tourism Industry Association San Pedro Chapter (BTIA-SPC) hosted a mixer at The Hidden Treasure Restaurant on Tuesday, March 7th. With a great turnout of both business and tourism stakeholders, the mixer served its purpose to strengthen the San Pedro Chapter.
After social hour, Mistress of Ceremonies Melanie Paz, Co-chairlady of the BTIA-SPC, greeted the gathering and introduced Tamara Sniffin, BTIA-SPC’s chairwoman, to give the official welcome address. “As business owners and tourism stakeholders, we share one thing in common, and that is the success of tourism on our island. Over the years, there have been many businesses organizations in San Pedro, but for one reason or another, they have slowly dissolved because of lack of membership. If we lose interest in tourism, we lose interest in our future. That is why it is so important that we work hard together as members so we can come up with great ways to address the problems we are facing now,” said Sniffin.
Sniffin stated that many of our key issues in San Pedro Town involve traffic, trash, substandard healthcare and lack of emergency services. She explained that San Pedro BTIA members will be able to identify goals and plans in order to present them to Mayor Daniel Guerrero, and possibly Central Government.
According to Paz, compared to other BTIA chapters, San Pedro has the lowest membership. “San Pedro has a total of 25 members, whereas Placencia has close to 200 members. For being Belize’s number one destination, we should be the chapter with the most members. Your membership means we have more voices here in San Pedro,” said Paz.
John Burgos, BTIA Executive Director, addressed the audience, sharing an overview of BTIA membership benefits and its projects. “One of the key things of the BTIA is to establish a close relationship with its members by creating an environment of open communication. San Pedro has been the top destination for Belize for over 20 years, so we believe that the BTIA should have a strong presence and representation in San Pedro. We want to strengthen it via a holistic approach, and being able to influence government, policy, market trade, and anything within the BTIA’s interest,” said Burgos.
The benefit of membership includes:
Marketing opportunities: The BTIA is in the process of rebranding its website, after which members will be given a membership directory complete with a username. The member will then have the opportunity to upload photos, promotions, and contact information to be displayed on the website.
Destination Belize Magazine: Through the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), this magazine is distributed all over the world. As a member, you are entitled to a reserved number of printed materials to include at your office. This serves as an additional way to promote tourism within Belize.
Destination Belize App: Tourists have the option to download the new app to become familiar with what Belize has to offer. As a member, your business will be listed as a member of BTIA, and tourists will be able to see all major attractions in Belize.
Training opportunities: Members are exclusive to training opportunities that range from marketing strategies, customer service and hospitality.
Since BTIA has been legally recognized for 20 years as a private sector, the NGO focuses on preserving the environment and promoting sustainable development in Belize. Over the past years, BTIA has advocated to government agencies to preserve the environment and reef. Some of the BTIA’s achievements include challenging the government on Blackadore Caye and Harvest Caye. Through consultations and advocating, they held rational discussions and reached mutual agreements with the government. The BTIA even advocated to reduce BTB’s Hotel and Accommodation minimum standards from 500 items to under 100.
Osmany Salas, BTIA President and 13th Senator representing the non-governmental organization (NGO) community was the guest speaker of the night. After a few words about his role as the 13th Senator, Salas discussed the importance of the BTIA. “I’ve been a member of the BTIA for seven years now, and my interest has been how to improve the tourism industry. I used to focus on my hometown of Orange Walk, but now I am serving my second term on the National Board. People are surprised to know that we are all volunteers, but we have to fight for tourism, and advocating plays an important role. People think we are against development. BTIA is not against development, we are against improper development. By having more voices, we can come together in unity and address these issues,” said Salas.
Salas then encouraged the audience to help revive the San Pedro Chapter. “We need to ensure that our natural attractions are conserved and protected because many businesses depend on it. There’s no reason why San Pedro should not be the largest of our Chapters. I strongly believe that to understand the tourism industry, you have to work along with the industry. That is why we consider it so important that the business and tourism community join the BTIA. We need members to share their recommendations, concerns, and interests.”
The successful evening ended with a ‘Question and Answer’ seminar, where many voiced their questions, comments, or concerns. Some of the topics included the BTIA’s position on offshore oil drilling and exploration, emergency healthcare, oversaturation of the business market, the safety of Secret Beach, and the lack of presence from the tourism police.

The BTIA is currently in the process of formulating a renewed strategic plan, implementing minimum standards for the zip-line and canopy systems in Belize, and hosting a Belize Tourism Expo on May 3rd to May 8th.
The BTIA-SPC gives thanks to Ruben and Elvia Muñoz at The Hidden Treasure, Talia Tillet, John Burgos, Osmany Salas, Delsie Graniel, and Melanie Paz for organizing the event. If you are interested in becoming a member or need additional information, please contact Tamara Sniffin at 226-2070, or email her at tamara@sanpedrosun.com

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