Saturday, July 20, 2024

New services to advance Belize’s tourism product under a new brand launched at Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve

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On a cloudy, cool day, on Friday, March 25th, the Turneffe Atoll Sustainable Association (TASA) hosted an official ceremony at Calabash Caye within the Turneffe Atoll Reserve to launch five new eco-tourism options under the brand Bluerise. The recreation areas include the Witconcrete ship, Calabash nature and underwater trails, a mooring network, and the Bluerise online portal to pay access fees. This initiative supported by the private sector and the government aims to offer more tourism products within this marine reserve to tourism stakeholders and visitors.

TASA is engaging in developing more tourism products in this area blessed with rich marine wonders to build resiliency after dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and expand their market via this new brand. According to TASA’s Tourism Business Developer, Delonie Forman, they are looking at high-value, low-impact tourism. Forman added they want visitors when visiting Turneffee to feel special and privileged to be the only ones accessing the facilities at Calabash. To achieve this, tourists/visitors can make reservations through their tour operators to schedule visits and get island exclusivity.

TASA’s Executive Director, Valdemar Andrade, explained what each new tourism option offers. The Calabash Caye nature trail is 1,600 feet long and includes a boardwalk, hammock bridge, and a 40-foot observatory tower. The walk through the nature trail offers visitors the experience to explore the island’s littoral forests and rich mangrove ecosystem. According to Andrade, this vast mangrove forest provides shoreline protection for places like Belize City and other coastal communities on the mainland, and it contributes annually to about $500 million through storm protection. The other attraction is the Witconcrete, a shipwreck in the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve, treating scuba divers to a new underwater world experience. “We did the relevant work to ensure the safety of the divers so they can enjoy it along with our next attraction, which is the underwater trail,” said Andrade. The underwater trail includes five stops. A slate at each stop explains to the diver/snorkeler what all they can see at these spots, including an area featuring coral restoration. The other new option is a Mooring Network with buoys constructed in Belize by Belizean marine contractor Joshua Murray. He said it was challenging but rewarding at the end when the job was done. This new mooring facility will offer an area for visiting boats to anchor safely. The fifth service has to do with eliminating the use of paper when paying park fees at TASA. With the online portal, payments can now be paid online through here https://turneffe.bluerise-fees.com/.

Ministry of the Blue Economy supports the Bluerise brand

Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of the Blue Economy, Kennedy Carrillo, was the keynote speaker of the historic launch. The CEO mentioned that one of the aims is that by 2030, Belize will be able to show the tangible effects of the important work of her ministry and partners in the pioneering and building of the Belize blue economy. “Belize’s marine protected areas are important tools in ensuring that our conservation targets are met, ensuring that we have resources that support our blue economic development and climate change resilience,” said Carrillo. The second in command of the Ministry of the Blue Economy stated that if managed effectively, the marine protected areas system has the potential to directly employ thousands and bring in millions of dollars in foreign exchange.

TASA’s Vice-Chair and representing the Office of the Prime Minister, Beverly Wade, indicated the new packages offered at Turneffe under the Bluerise brand compliment the Ministry of the Blue Economy, which is mandated to support innovative ways of generating revenues through environmentally friendly projects.

Before the event wrapped up, several stakeholders were recognized with awards. The awardees include The Aggressor, Fisheries Department, Turneffe Island Resort, Ramon’s Diving at Ramon’s Village Resort, Blackbird Caye Resort, Sir Hakim-Belize Dive Haven, Frenchies Diving Services, the Belize Coast Guard, University of Belize, Belize Port Authority, Blue Finance, Ministry of the Blue Economy and Civil Aviation, Beverly Wade, and Turneffe Flats. The awards ceremony also included the donation of $3,000 to TASA from the Belize Tourism Board.

Afterward, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place, making TASA’s new tourism products official under the Bluerise brand.

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