Originally slated for May 19 – 22, 2009, in Belmopan, the capital of Belize, the Third Annual World Conference for Responsible Tourism has been postponed till next fall, announced the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) this week.
What happens when a small, scarcely populated backwater of a country is suddenly deluged with a million foreign visitors a year? What’s the best way to address the host of changes and challenges that this brings? Tourism experts from around the world will attempt to answer these questions at the conference, which will examine the impacts of: tourism on marine and coastal zones (in Belize and around the world), the impacts of cruise tourism (which contributes to 7 out of 10 visitors to Belize), and the physical and social impacts of second homes and condominiums in Belize.
Belize has often been seen as a poster child for sustainable tourism, so it is a natural choice to host the event, organized by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT), a local branch of UK-based ICRT which supports responsible tourism in other sensitive and popular parts of the word, including The Gambia, India, and South Africa.
The conference comes the same year BTB announced a four-year, $13.5 million dollar plan “to promote and practice responsible tourism development in the country,” funding infrastructural projects in four of the country’s more popular tourism destinations, including Chaa Creek’s home district of Cayo in western Belize.
“Continuing an open dialogue on key sustainable tourism issues, such as its effect on our local community and environment, is critical to the survival of, not only Belize, but the world as a whole,” said Government of Belize Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia Jr., underscoring the importance of the event.
— by Joshua Berman, author of Moon Belize