Keep It, Love It, & Guard It

Keep It, Love It, & Guard It

On the tenth of September 1969, less than two months after the world had learned that man had landed on the moon, Premier George Cadle Price invited Belizeans to “meet the greatest challenge of our history and to embark confidently on the tremendous adventure of a life time – an adventure to build a new nation of Belize with equal opportunities for all regardless of race or creed or colour”. It was both a national vision and call to duty.  He repainted this sentiment many times and in many different ways throughout the years leading up to independence. It would be another twelve years before he would be able to say, in his statement at the Flag Raising Ceremony on September 20, 1981, that “It is our flag. May we keep it, love it and guard it. LONG LIVE BELIZE!”.  Even today the words inspire civic pride and duty.  We recently celebrated George Price Day. May January 15th forever be the day that we remember his vision and may we strive to remain unified and determined in our adventure to build Belize. Tourism is a huge part of that adventure.

In 1969, Price also stated that income from tourism was “estimated at over three million dollars per annum”. What might he say now to know that the tourism industry accounts for over 40 percent of Belize’s GDP? What might he say now to know that a global pandemic knocked that same industry off of its upward trajectory in 2020 but in three years the resilience of the Belizean people has put it right back on its axis? Our latest tourism statistics show that when compared to numbers from 2019, overnight visitor arrivals are up 91.4 percent and cruise visitor arrivals has bounced back with a 74.35 percent recovery. Numbers are not as pretty as words but in this case, those numbers are as pretty as a peach. Noteworthy is that on the 10th of this month, Belize recorded the single busiest day in this cruise ship season with an astounding 16,000 passengers on board four ships in port. This fits nicely since Belize recently started its two-year tenure as pro-tempore president of the Mundo Maya Organization (MMO).

The Mundo Maya multi-destination project includes Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico. The MMO was founded in 1992 as part of an initiative to sustainably develop tourism within the region and promote the conservation of cultural and historic heritage. Over the next two years, Belize will be integral in reshaping the organization’s strategic agenda by focusing on critical issues for development such as climate change, digital integration, cruise tourism, and connectivity within the Mundo Maya region. The new statistics tell us just how important it is to preserve our Maya archaeological sites. Of the 81.3 percent of cruise visitors who disembarked at the Fort Street Tourism Village (FSTV), 52.1 percent went on tours. For November 2023, the statistics show that the top tour activity for cruise ship visitors was Maya archaeological site visits.

In 1970, in an address in Michigan, USA, Premier George Price told his audience that our tourism had great potential as an important source of employment. He expressed that “the friendly nature of our people, the accommodating climate of Belize, its geographic position, its scenic attractions, fishing, hunting, wildlife, coastal and island resources offer untapped potential…”. For this George Price Day, we can say that we continue to stay the course on that adventure to build Belize and as far as tourism development goes in 2024, we plan to keep it, love it, and guard it.

Chat again later.

Jasmine Anderson

For the Belize Tourism Board