Belize gets IDB support to expand tourism

WASHINGTON, United States, November 27, 2008 – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is giving support to Belize in developing a master plan for tourism, build a marketing strategy to attract more visitors and improve infrastructure in several key tourist areas.

The IDB said yesterday that it would provide a loan as much as US$13.3 million to help the country expand the industry in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

The country’s tourism sector, which in recent years has lost market share to other countries in Central America, accounts for 22 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and employs an estimated 25 per cent of the labour force.

The programme will invest in the restoration and improvement of facilities in four highly-sought tourism destinations in the country: San Ignacio and surroundings in Cayo District; Ambergris Caye in Belize District; Placencia peninsula in Stann Creek District; and Belize City. Together, these four destinations account for about 64 per cent of tourism earnings in the country.

“Works in these four areas include construction and improvement of information centres and other facilities for visitors; construction to restore beaches and reduce erosion; landscaping and restoration of the urban centre,” an IDB release said.

“In addition, the IDB will finance the preparation of a National Tourism Master Plan for the entire sector, the development of an updated country branding strategy, and a matching grant facility for micro and small businesses helping to strengthen value chains for tourism and offset the cost of complying with standards including sustainable tourism criteria.”

The programme also seeks to support communities in promoting tourist access to the Maya and Garifuna cultures.