San Pedro Town Council Hosts 2nd Annual Tourism Awards

Monday, November 27th, 2023

Held at El Patio Restaurant under sparkling décor, the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) honored the outstanding tourism business of Ambergris Caye on Saturday evening, November 25th. Mr. Gerry Badillo and Ms. Natalie Arceo hosted the glamorous event, with the Black and White Garifuna Center opening the ceremony with lively traditional dances.

San Pedro Town Councilor Ernesto Bardalez, who holds the Tourism Portfolio and organizes the annual event, welcomed guests of honor Belize City Councillor Stephanne Hamilton in charge of Tourism and Diaspora (among other portfolios), San Pedro Deputy Mayor Marina Kay, Hon. Andre Perez, and Mayor Gualberto “Wally” Nuñez. Bardalez explained that votes were accepted between November 12-23rd with over 30,300 ballots electronically cast for the different tourism categories. He thanked the nominees for their outstanding contribution to the tourism industry on Ambergris Caye and stated that everyone is a winner.

Mayor Nuñez was next at the podium and thanked everyone in attendance. He emphasized that the tourism awards celebrate the brave pioneers and visionaries who have propelled San Pedro into the thriving community it is today. He congratulated the nominees who embody the spirit of excellence and innovation that defines the municipality. He added the tourism award ceremony coincides with San Pedro Township Day, this being the 39th anniversary.

Hon. Andre Perez, Standard Bearer for Belize Rural South, followed with a speech touching on tourism’s tremendous contribution to the island and the country. Tourism is a tireless job that always demands the best of us, and we do it with a smile. Perez thanked all those behind the scenes and those in front, all are an integral part of our tourism product.

After much anticipation, Host Arceo explained that the votes were processed impartially and fairly, and the time had come to announce the winners. To much applause, the awardees were introduced. Bartender of the Year – Joseph Pate at Nauti Crab, Local Eatery of the Year – Neri’s Tacos, Restaurant of the Year – Elvi’s Kitchen, Tour Guide of the Year – Juan Coc of White Sands Dive Shop, Dive Shop of the Year – Chuck & Robbies, Tour Operator of the Year -Island Dream Tours, Front Office Person- Abigal Najarro of Victoria House, Small Hotel of the Year – Caye Casa and Hotel of the Year – Sunset & Grand Caribe.

Following another lively performance by the Black and White Garifuna Center, the ceremony recognized San Pedro Legacy and Pioneers in the tourism sector. San Pedro Town Councilor Adele Ayuso explained the importance of these individuals’ groundwork in establishing our historic growth in the industry. Ms. Julia Edwards was honored with the Lifetime Achievement in Tourism for her decades in the industry, primarily as manager for the Sunbreeze Hotel and Sunbreeze Suites. Ms. Celi McCorkle received Lifetime Achievement for the First Hotel – Holiday Hotel, First Restaurant Elvi’s Kitchen, First Dive Shop – Alan Foreman Coral Beach Dive Shop, First Beauty Ambassador Leney Allamia inaugural Ms San Pedeo and First Mayor – Gilberto “Chico” Gomez.

In wrapping up the glamorous evening, Belize City Councillor Ms. Hamilton offered a Vote of Thanks and congratulated the winners. The night continued with cocktails, music, and merriment.

The San Pedro Sun congratulates all who were nominated and won, you are indeed an integral part of our island success!


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