Farewell Peter Tonti
It is with great sadness that the management and staff of Chaa Creek farewell a former long-time visionary of the Chaa Creek Team.
Peter Tonti, who was with Chaa Creek for fifteen years, most recently as the company’s Chief Financial Officer, passed away on April 15th, 2015, leaving a huge void in the entire Belizean tourism industry, where he carved out a legacy as one of the industry’s pioneers and contributors to its early success.
Arriving in Belize as a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1970s, Mr Tonti fell in love with the country and people and, when his tour was finished, decided to stay on.
It was a time of dramatic change in Belize as the little country evolved from a colonial backwater to become one of the region’s most vibrant sovereign democracies.
It was also the time when Belize moved from an agrarian based economy to become one of the world’s most exciting tourism destinations, and Peter was perfectly placed to assume a role in this development.
After working for the Reconstruction and Development Corporation in Belmopan, Peter Tonti joined the Belmopan Convention Hotel in 1983.
An early member of the Belize Tourism Industry Association, Peter continued contributing his experience, knowledge and energy to Belize’s tourism sector for years, eventually as BTIA board member.
Peter joined the Chaa Creek family in May 4th 1998, and in addition to displaying a keen understanding of corporate finances and an organisational ability that contributed to Chaa Creek’s rapid growth during this period, he also shared the ethos of environmental sustainability and responsible tourism that underpins Chaa Creek’s commitment to eco-tourism.
This blend of pragmatic corporate management combined with a deep love of the environment is what set Peter apart and made him so integral to Chaa Creek’s – and indeed Belize’s – eco-tourism development.
Always ready to lend a hand, Peter was a board member of the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) from 2010-2013 and active in a variety of community and national environmental and social initiatives.
Many people and groups benefitted from Peter’s astute financial advice and organizational abilities, and his home above Chaa Creek’s offices on Burns Avenue in San Ignacio was a welcoming enclave for business and social activities where Peter, often with an after hours glass of Scotch in hand, would hold court as he dispensed advice and anecdotes to his colleagues and an upcoming generation of tourism professionals.
In this, as in so many areas of life throughout Belize, Peter is already greatly missed. It is no exaggeration to say that Belizean tourism will never be quite the same without him.
Peter is survived by his wife, Delita, kids Guliana and Gianni Tonti. Funeral arrangements will take place April 22nd at 3:00pm (Belize Time/Central Time) at the Sacred Heart Parish, Church Street, San Ignacio, Cayo, Belize.
Goodbye Peter, and we know that you are leaving Belize, and the world, all the better for your having been here.
You will be greatly missed.