Message from the BTIA President

Dear Fellow Board, Chapter Representatives, Sector Representatives and Membership:

It is true that time and tide waits for no man.  As we contemplate the year that has been and the challenges that continue to face our industry, it is certainly no cliché in realizing that we must act and act in a concerted timely manner with a singular purpose for the benefit of our members and all players in the overall tourism industry.  The first year of my presidency has flown by but has seen us collaborate closely for the re-organization of our Association in several important fronts.  Our Destination Belize continues to be locally produced and earns for our organization much needed revenue for the implementation of our programs and activities.  Overall, it remains the primary marketing tool for our industry.  We have approached the relationship with the production company with a strict business focus in order that the BTIA receives its royalty payments in a timely manner.  We have returned to organizing the BETEX 2014 in house – a decision we are confident will result in greater efficiencies and effectiveness for the good our membership and the industry.  We have continued to ensure that the management of the organization’s limited resources represent good business practices and accountability.  We also can’t afford to be frugal at the expense of offering effective service to our members.  With that in mind, we must never return to the days when skeletal staffing makes us sacrifice responsiveness to our membership and industry needs.  Instead, we must walk the more challenging road of identifying the revenue streams necessary and efficient management.

For your cooperation and your strong spirit of volunteerism, I remain thankful and encouraged.  I write this letter to put on record my gratitude for your commitment to our Association and your great assistance by lending of your expertise, resources and valuable time to our Board of Directors.  I direct this letter to all current (immediate past and new) Board Members.  This past AGM, we added one new member and renewed the presence of a long standing member to our roster.  Many may wonder why I chose to enter the AGM without a slate for the positions that were vacant for those that were in attendance.  I know for many of you the process at the AGM may have seen a bit unorthodox and less than smooth in implementation.  Believe me, it was purposeful.  When no nominations came in prior to the AGM, I felt it was a time to issue an invitation to members present to take up the call of volunteerism and express their desire to work for the good of the industry that provides their livelihood and the profitability for their investments.  We must find a way to place squarely in membership’s hands the responsibility of management and oversight of their Association and industry.  This was a test of the spirit of volunteerism and willingness to serve and our commitment to be more inclusive and expand the opportunity for new faces and to serve among us, with the benefit of new ideas.  We must continue in a fashion of inclusiveness as the industry is all of us and we each bear equal responsibility towards the Association that represents us.

As we prepare to celebrate a season of love with our families, I extend a warm wish for a loving and blessed Christmas from my family to yours and look forward to a successful and productive 2014 as we continue to work together.  In that spirit, I want to issue my personal challenge to all of you to continue along this road of volunteerism with your Association.  If you believe you have not given your all, then I challenge you to join me as we do so together.  If you have given it all you can, I ask you to stay at the table with me.  Please allow me to express my gratitude and single out some specific challenges to each of you individually.

  • Pedro, I want to thank you for remaining committed to BTIA and oversight of the finances of the Association.  You have been at this helm for many years and you continue to give of your expertise and time.  I want to challenge you and our team for us to sit down and brainstorm to identify other meaningful avenues and options for the continued revenue generation for the Association.  This would set a great stage for entering our Long Term Financial Planning and Strategic Planning process in January 2014.
  • Rob, I want to thank you for your service on the Board as Secretary over the past years.  I want to ask that you don’t become a stranger to us and remain active in our Toledo Chapter to ensure their continued vibrancy. I know you are committed.
  • Peter, your presence and considerations have been nothing short of valuable.  You have personally reached out on several occasions offering your expert opinions and recommendations.  All of which, I have found quite productive.  Please continue to offer your views and recommendations and I enjoy the chats you offer on matters we continue to deliberate.
  • Val, your role on the Board has been quite sound and I have grown to trust and rely on your professionalism.  I look forward to 2014 with you fully engaged as always.
  • Jim, as Past President you had an energy that was uniquely you.  Your willingness to stay at the table is important and I want to reiterate that your continued involvement remains quite important.
  • Mike, I welcome you to the Board and I am counting on your full support and commitment in serving our Association.  Thank you for stepping up and accepting the call to serve at our AGM.
  • Orange Walk BTIA Chapter, a big hearty congratulation for accepting my personal challenge to double your membership.  You have grown from 11 to now 18 members.  Congratulations on La Dulce Vista! Please keep going and stay fully engaged at the table.
  • Corozal BTIA Chapter, last year December you all achieved a milestone in the recognition of Santa Rita as a Maya wedding destination in Belize.  I continue to stand ready to offer my own expertise to assist and support you in your continued works towards the full realization of the dream of Santa Rita.  I would like to challenge you all to stay at the BTIA table.  We all face challenges of time and finances, but as a group we can tackle the issues and challenges we face.  Together, we stand stronger.
  • Placencia BTIA Chapter, your Chapter remains the largest in total membership for BTIA.  We are pleased to have you among us.  Your vibrancy is an example for all Chapters.  My challenge to you is to increase your numbers in terms of participation at our meetings — Bi-Annual and Annual General Meetings.  We want to feel your dynamism in our presence at these gatherings.
  • Cayo BTIA Chapter, I am so pleased with your re-energized presence.  I stand ready to support you in your activities and ask that you stay at the table.  It is only by having you actively participating at the Board and Membership levels that we will know of the challenges facing you in your destination and be able to offer meaningful support and assistance.
  • San Pedro BTIA Chapter, your destination has traditionally been viewed as the leading destination for our industry.  We are proud of the self-sufficiency the operators in the area have shown in large part.  However, we know that there are issues and challenges facing you.  Our membership in that destination is rather small and we need to expand membership to credibly state we reflect the industry in that destination when we do speak on behalf of the industry issues for that area.  My challenge is to increase membership by 50% in the year 2014.  I would also like to see if the Chapter Board of San Pedro and the Chapter Board of Corozal can come together and collaborate for mutual benefits as you have a unique proximity that represents unique opportunities.  I would like to urge the Corozal Chapter to explore this with enthusiasm and a commitment to think outside the box.
  • Caye Caulker BTIA Chapter, I congratulate you on the works you all have traditionally been implementing in your destination and a commitment to keep your product unique.  I would like to encourage you to remain vibrant in your destination and continue to grow your representation in the destination.
  • Dangriga BTIA Chapter, we understand the challenges facing you and we stand ready to support you.  I congratulate you on your recent AGM and ability to attract some fresh blood.  We stand ready to support you in using that fresh blood to inject a new vibrancy in the Chapter.
  • Industry Representatives of BHA, Tour Operators and Cruise Service Providers, we are pleased to have you with us and ask that you continue to participate and keep us informed of the challenges you face and areas where we can partner more closely.  The challenge is always striking the proverbial balance in our sector.  Through dialogue much can be achieved.  Doug and Denise, I am personally grateful for your individual and organizational support.
  • We have two Chapters that have slipped into dormancy — one long standing and one that is still fairly young.  As a Board we need to get the Hopkins Chapter back at the table and we need to get the Belize District Chapter alive.  Cruise tourism in the Belize City and Belize District area as well as the overnight tourism industry requires this Chapter to be operational.
  • The Association for Tour Guides needs our Board to ensure we continue to have them at the table.  They are a broad and diverse group and we must find a way to address their presence meaningful at our Board level.

I know this letter may seem long but there is much to be said for inclusiveness and for recognizing individual achievements.  My individual challenges are not meant to be anything but positive and encourage us to remain on the ball.  Our industry and our very bottom-line demands that we do!  These are only some of the things I would like to see us tackle in 2014.  Please don’t be overwhelmed, but let us be compelled to be even more active and visible for the good of our membership and our industry.  As one of our long standing members Mike Huesner likes to say (paraphrasing):  We must commit to lead and set the direction or our leaders will lead us astray.

My Colleagues, Merry Christmas and all best considerations for a successful 2014!


Herbert Haylock