Tuesday, July 16, 2024

San Pedro Tour Operators host first meeting of the year


The San Pedro Tour Operators Association (SPTOA) hosted their first meeting of the year on Monday, March 26th at the Sunbreeze Hotel Conference Room. At the gathering, attendees were addressed by guest speaker Valentine Rosado who spoke about the importance of leadership, membership and enforcement from governmental authorities to protect the marine resources. The meeting also included an open dialogue in which the SPTOA called on individuals and businesses on the island to deter from engaging in illegal activities, such as providing excursions or other services without a proper tour operator’s license.
Rosado welcomed everyone that attended the gathering starting his presentation shortly after 7PM.
He explained the need to improve the credibility and proven leadership of the Association in the community. He spoke on the need to increase the membership and participation of tour operators in order to have a greater impact when it comes to decisions and policy implementation. Rosado told the attendees that there needs to be a formal institutionalized membership as part of the national licensing committee and to identify opportunities to enhance competitiveness.
He ended his presentation by pointing out that as a group, training opportunities focused on reef conservation must be identified for the benefit of the marine environment that provides for everyone. At the same time, the lobbying of law enforcement with governmental organizations such as the Belize Tourism Board, Port Authority and Hol Chan Marine Reserve was encouraged.
An open discussion followed where the issue of unlicensed tour operators selling tours on the island was the main topic discussed. SPTOA’s Everette Anderson indicated that the Association is cracking down on those individuals and businesses that are engaged in such illicit activities. They all agreed that it was not fair to tour operators who legitimately run their businesses. With the support of the San Pedro Tourism Police and SPTOA, members were asked to report anybody operating without a proper license to sell tours. These reports can be brought at higher levels in the Tourism Ministry and such offenders can then be punished.
The practice is not only considered illegal, but dangerous for customers in times of an unprecedented situations and accidents.
Anderson posed an example. “If someone goes out diving with a tour operator that is not licensed and something goes wrong, that unlicensed tour operator may not be able to provide some sort of insurance, whereas with a licensed operator the customer can be covered under the company’s insurance umbrella.”
The SPTOA believes that if everyone joins in and cooperate these practices can be deterred and tourists will have access to a safer and more reliable service. They encourage more tour companies to join them to tackle these issues affecting the tour operators on the island.

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