Belize Tourism Board has cemented its commitment to responsible tourism with its sponsorship of the World Responsible Tourism Awards. In a statement announcing the partnership, the Central American country highlighted the importance of a joined up approach to sustainability to ensure that the local economy is stimulated and benefits from tourism, and natural resources are protected.
The comment comes as part of the announcement that Belize will be the headline sponsor of the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM London, and is an extension of Belize’s national Sustainable Tourism Masterplan, which stipulates how to grow tourism in a sustainable manner. The winners of the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards will all be organisations which have been recognised for their leadership and for the replicability worldwide of their projects and initiatives.
The destination is no stranger to the Awards, with two organisations based in Belize recognised for their work in recent years. In 2011 community organisation ‘Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development’ was awarded ‘Best in a Marine Environment’ for its campaign for locally owned tourism development in the face of planned cruise tourism in the Placencia Peninsula of Belize. The judges were impressed that “After uniting the community to preserve the authenticity of the Peninsula, they have continued to promote collaboration between local tourism organisations and the village council to proactively develop sustainable tourism”.
In 2013 local tour operator and marine conservation organisation Reef CI were highly commended in the ‘Best for Responsible Wildlife Experiences” category, in recognition of their successful and innovative tourism project to combat the ecological destruction of Belize’s barrier reef by reducing numbers of invasive lionfish species.
Karen Pike of the Belize Tourism Board says “Responsible tourism is more than just a few gestures here and there, it’s about a way of life, and it’s something that is ingrained in Belize’s mentality; our tourism development strategy goes hand in hand with sustainability and if we believe all destinations should consider this approach. Along with protecting the wildlife and natural resources, a key element of this strategy is ensuring that tourism truly benefits the local people and keeping Belize chain-free has greatly contributed to this, encouraging local enterprise and businesses to cater for tourists.”
CEO of Awards organisers Responsible Travel, Justin Francis says “By sponsoring the World Responsible Tourism Awards this year, the Belize Tourism Board are sending a clear signal that they are fully committed to driving the development of responsible tourism both in Belize and in the wider world. We are delighted to be working with them”.
The World Responsible Tourism Awards and the Belize Tourism Board are now making a final call to tourism businesses worldwide, big or small, to submit an entry into the 2016 event. To submit an entry please visit http://www.responsibletravel.com/awards/submissions. Entries will close on Sunday 8th May 2016.
The 2016 categories:
Best accommodation for responsible employment
Best contribution to wildlife conservation – sponsored by Florida Keys and Key West Tourist Development Council
Best innovation by a tour operator
Best for poverty reduction and inclusion – sponsored by the Tobago House of Assembly
Best responsible tourism campaign – sponsored by Exodus Travel
WTM London’s World Responsible Tourism Day, and the World Responsible Tourism Awards ceremony takes place on Tuesday 8 November 2016.