San Pedro Tour Operators Association General Meeting welcomes special guest from BTB

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

On Wednesday, May 9th the San Pedro Tour Operators Association (SPTOA) hosted a general meeting at the Sunbreeze Hotel conference room. Various issues pertaining to the association were discussed, and engaging with the tour operators was Belize Tourism Board’s (BTB) Director of Cruise and Destination Planning, Noriko Gamero. She highlighted the process of enforcement and the importance of the tourism stakeholder participation to address some of the problems affecting the tour operator community on the island.
Chairman of the SPTOA Everette Anderson gave a brief overview of the issues affecting tour operators on the island, like tour operators and guides working without a valid license. He also presented a financial report of the organization and encouraged members to ask others to join.
Following the Chairman’s remarks, Gamero tackled the issue of the unlicensed operators. She stated that whenever someone knows about these illegal tour operators, the correspondent authorities should be notified. “A complainant should have proof that the operator is providing services without a license,” said Gamero. According to her, this can be done via statements, witness accounts, and even images that can corroborate an accusation. Gamero explained that when someone is found guilty of such an offense, there can be imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $10,000. Many of the attendees pointed out that there is a lack of prosecution, but Gamero reiterated that if cooperation between stakeholders and the BTB strengthens the problem can be dramatically reduced. Another topic that was brought up was the absence of a proper physical inspection at the time a tour operator is acquiring his or her license. Gamero admitted that only the structure from where the tours are organized are inspected, but she would have the relative department look into expanding inspections. She asked that tour operators push visitors to reference the BTB website for an up-to-date list of registered tour operators. A marketing strategy to promote each area of the country is in the planning stage, with its related website and promotional materials for trade shows. In this way, travel agents and customers can be better guided to specific areas of the country, with accurate information on the licensed and registered tour operators and tour guides in each area. Gamero is confident that after this first meeting with the SPTOA, their relationship will strengthen, and further issues can be addressed at the managerial level of the Ministry of Tourism.
SPTOA thanks everyone for attending, especially Gamero. Chairman Anderson once again encourages more tour operators to join their organization. He reminds operators that the larger the group, the more positive things for the San Pedro tour operators can be achieved.

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