Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye have acquired quite the reputation among tourists as preferred destinations in Belize. Our Belize City journalists visited them both this weekend with the Tourism Board. First, they headed to Caye Caulker, “La Isla Carinosa,” where they were hosted by Seaside Cabanas and Island Magic Resort respectively. Their first appointment was with Anda de Wata Tours for the hottest thing to hit Caye Caulker since spiny lobster. It’s called “island tubing”: like cave tubing, except it’s on open waters. The guide and owner of the tour company, Artemio Marin, has fourteen years’ experience as a cave-tubing guide and decided to export the idea to his home island. He shares the results.
“This particular tour has been a very new tour. It has been well received among the tourists that come to this island; no negative complains; it has been increasing in popularity over the last year”.
Reporter: “Are you getting more locals involved?”
Mr. Artemio Marin: “I would love to get more Belizeans involved, I love taking Belizeans out; this is a part of their heritage. Most Belizeans, when they come to Caye Caulker, they just have a great time relaxing on the beach having a few drinks, having cocktails, but very few make it out to the reef and tours like this. I would love for Belizeans…it is a very unique experience coming out and viewing and experience their heritage from their country”.
“One of my friends, well actually I ask about the tour guide, what work he does. Then, after that, I came here for a trip to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, and just that trip made my mind change to stay here. I’ve been five years here on the island and I have never been back home”.
Reporter: “Would you encourage other young people to take up the opportunity and be a part of the tourism industry
Mr. Pedro Oh: “Yes, because if everybody knows that the tourism business plays a big role in this country. So, my advice to younger generations is that just go out for it and if you love the water and you want to see cool stuff, it’s all in here. The underwater world is a really great experience”.
The second stop in the Reserve was Shark Ray Alley, whose fearsome reputation does not stand up to the hype. Most of its occupants are rather tame and swam right up without hesitation. The Dive Center’s principal diving master trainer, Emiliano Rivero, tells why the area has never looked better.
A few years ago, the health of the area has declined. There were much more guests, but now, the Hol Chan marine reserve, the San Pedro Tour Guide Association and the guides themselves are now working on putting our guests aware of the situation. So, they are more strict when it come s for the conservation and the protection of the area. So during recent studies at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the health of the reef has improved a little more for the past two years. We are not allowed to stand on or touch any coral or collecting anything dead or alive from the area and there’s ratio 8 to 1 person in the water. So, guides can see that nothing is being done that is not permitted in the park”.
After a final lunch at the Holiday Hotel’s Caprice Restaurant, it was time to say goodbye. BTB’s media and public relations manager and chief chaperone on this trip was Andrea Polanco.
“For the past four days, we’ve been doing the Media Familiarization Tour for local journalists. So, what we’ve really done is to have them have you guys, really get to see what Belize has to offer as a tourist destination, particularly for our locals. Most of the times, you receive reports about just the quality of service really improving, all the work that the BTB has done to really get our industry to international standards, and of course, we wanted you guys to really see that, experience that for yourselves and I believe you got the chance. You guy are one of our biggest partners in terms of making Belizeans aware of what we have here. So, we want you to tell the story of how amazing our country is; just how much our service providers are really dedicated to this industry; the quality of service that they offer. We have beautiful attractions. Everywhere else in the world, they also have beautiful attractions. But sets Belize apart is just how committed the people who work in this industry are to deliver quality service to have you guys have an amazing experience. So, I believe you’ve had the opportunity to see that just for yourselves”.
Polanco told us that she hopes our stories reduce the barrier for ordinary Belizeans to experience Belize for themselves without worrying about prices