Can Sustainable Tourism Thrive in Belize?
Interview with Mike Green, Sustainable Tourism Consultant in Belize
Two weeks ago, I attended the 28th Annual General Meeting of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) in Belize City. The BTIA is the largest tourism association in Belize with over 25 years of membership commitment and is the voice of tourism related concerns.
“Tourism Business and Sustainable Development” was the theme of the general meeting and the special guest speaker at the event was Dr Kenrick Leslie, a world-renowned scientist on climate change who spoke about the intricacies and challenges of climate change in the tourism industry and why the BTIA has to play an instrumental role in leading an effective sustainable tourism movement in Belize.
After the meeting was over, I met with Mike Green who is a sustainable tourism consultant and independent Green Globe auditor to talk about sustainable tourism and the rise of green certification in Belize.
Please tell me about yourself and your work in the tourism industry in Belize.
I have worked in the tourism industry here in Belize for the past 23 years, in both resort management and tour operations and now as a sustainable tourism consultant and certification auditor.
What is sustainable tourism?
Sustainable tourism in its purest sense is an industry which attempts to make a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate income, employment, and the conservation of local ecosystems. It is responsible tourism that is both ecologically and culturally sensitive. Thus, Sustainable tourism activities have minimal impact on the environment and culture of the host community.
How satisfied are you about the progress of sustainable tourism in Belize?
Belize has come a long way over the past 20 years yet we still have a long way to go. We are blessed with an abundance of natural resources as well as phenomenal cultural and natural attractions. My concerns lie with whether or not our governmental agencies actually recognize these facts and the monumental importance of sustainably utilizing our resources for current benefit yet still conserving them for the enrichment of future generations.
What makes Belize tourism industry vulnerable to environmental changes?
Belize is a subtropical country with rather low lying topography. Climate change as the result of global warming has been scientifically predicted to result in the rise of the oceanic water levels. Just a matter of a few inches rise will have devastating effect on our coastline which facilitates a large portion of our tourism industry. Maybe you should think of buying land around Belmopan for future beachfront development!
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