The Belize Tourism Industry Association Orange Walk Chapter held its Annual General Meeting last night. We were present for the event and here are a few highlights of the occasion.

Dalila Ical – Reporting

There are currently seventeen members under the BTIA Orange Walk Chapter and on the night of January nineteenth, the chapter met for its annual general meeting.

The election of officers was part of the agenda but it was also a time for the chapter to take a look at achievements over the last year. It was a financially challenging one said outgoing chair Osmani Salas but the chapter’s membership persevered.

Screen_Shot_2015-01-20_at_8.19.26_PMOsmani Salas – President, BTIA National

“Well, things have been tight our members in Orange Walk have always come through to make sure that we keep operating so even though they pay their annual fee many of our members from their own pockets contribute on keeping our chapter and our information center open so one positive thing I think we can mention and another positive development of the Chapter here is that we set up a partnership with Oceana Belize and they are planning to undertake a national public awareness campaign to promote importance and the value of the marine realm and they agreed to engage our chapter in Orange Walk to represent them and carry out their work in Orange Walk so we expect that partnership to start from this month or the latest next month and that will bring some resources that will help our Chapter to do more work in Orange Walk,”

Following the elections of officers, the newly elected Chair, Lourdes Saldivar committed to keep taking the organization ahead.

Lourdes Saldivar  - Chair, BTIA OW

“Definitely, there is a lot of work to be done and yes I cannot do the things alone it is a board that decides but as the Chairperson then I need to see the way they should, there by-laws of the BTIA, there is a vision and there is a mission and there are objectives so I need to keep in tune.”

Among the plans for the New Year is education, which the BTIA considers very important.

Lourdes Saldivar  - Chair, BTIA OW

“We have plans to continuing going to the high schools as well speaking to students parents and teachers on the idea of keeping our town clean and beautiful it might seem like a simple thing but many persons don’t have the habit of putting garbage where it belongs and who would like to go at a place where it is filthy and I am ashamed when I walk down town Orange Walk and I see the fight and the place also smells bad so we need to change that and it has to begin changing habits and especially with the children.”

Membership is also a priority for the organization which currently sees the participation of seventeen members. They hope to gain more support in this coming year, says Saldivar.

Lourdes Saldivar- Chair, BTIA OW

“As long as they believe that they can contribute something positive to our town and to have their voice heard through an Association that can be as strong as it members then they can join us.”

And while the BTIA seeks to promote the businesses of its membership, it too seeks to drive economic growth within each community it serves.  All these can be better achieved says Salas by ensuring the proper infrastructures are in place.

Osmani Salas – President, BTIA National

“We need to work together to push for the development of infrastructure in Orange Walk we have but we always have an eye, that is why this area is known for but we have much more, we have the culture, we have the river, we have history, we have our culinary aspects and what would boost our tourism product is if our infrastructure is better, our street, our roads, so I think working together we just have to appeal to the government to do their share and to help use here because we don’t want Orange Walk to be bypassed literally bypassed and other destinations like Corozal get to get more attention, we would like Corozal to get more attention but we wouldn’t want Orange Walk to be bypassed we need to focus on Orange Walk and if we do that it will help everybody, to help business and to help the local economy.”

There are ten chapters across the country under the National BTIA. Each chapter is represented on the national board by a representative. According to Osmani Salas who is also the National President, this year they intend to create two new chapters, one in Belize City and a second in Belmopan by the end of January. The national body also intends to strengthen the Corozal Chapter and revive the chapter in San Pedro. Salas adds that they want to strengthen their  responsible tourism across the country.

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