The Government of Belize (GOB) has committed to a four-year, $13.5 million dollar plan to promote and practice responsible tourism development in the country. The new sustainable tourism initiative outlines infrastructural projects that focus on the long-term preservation of Belize's stunning natural resources, as well as developments in four of the country's more popular tourism destinations, including San Ignacio in the Cayo District, Placencia in the Stann Creek District, San Pedro on Ambergris Caye and Belize City.  

"Our focus is to help build Belize as an emerging destination in a responsible way, thereby setting the tone for future developments and advances throughout the country," said Tracy Panton, Director of Tourism for the Belize Tourism Board (BTB). "The initiatives presented in Belize's new plan will promote sustainability and foster mutually beneficial relationships between residents and investors."

In Belize City, infrastructural developments will include a pedestrian link from the cruise ship port to the city's downtown area, allowing locals to benefit from cruise tourism; as well as re-surfacing of the street, installation of wider sidewalks, lighting and landscaping. In Placencia, a natural disaster management plan will be put into place, along with the construction of an extended pier, allowing visiting yachts and boats to dock and access the area. In San Pedro, an outlet mall will be built on the western side of the town, which will create new jobs and local opportunities for growth. And, in San Ignacio, the sustainable tourism projects will focus on improving accessibility to, and preservation of, key archeological sites. In addition, a town cultural center will be developed to help tourists access all the services San Ignacio has to offer.
 
Complementing the new initiative in May will be the third annual World Conference on Responsible Tourism by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT). The BTB recently announced its sponsorship of the event which focuses on the responsibility for sustainable tourism and addresses local economic development through tourism, the impact of second homes or condo hotels, the impact of mass tourism to the marine environment as well as climate change. For additional information on the conference, scheduled for May 19 - 23, 2009 in Belize, or information regarding the country's involvement with ICRT, please visit www.icrtbelize.org.