Monday, May 20, 2013- On Saturday, May 18th, over two hundred and thirty guests, including industry stakeholders and government officials, gathered at Bannister Caye to honor the recipients of the 12th Annual National Tourism Awards.
Over twelve years ago, the BTB had a vision to recognize organizations and industry partners for their dedicated and outstanding service to Belize's tourism industry. The BTB is proud to say that the awards have certainly evolved from being just a statement of excellence, into a way to promote creativity and to help establish a benchmark for best practices in the industry. Director of Tourism, Laura Esquivel-Frampton said, "A heartfelt congratulations to all the nominees and winners. Your work is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire tourism industry in Belize." The Belize Tourism Board is pleased to congratulate the winners in the following categories:
- Destination of the Year: Placencia- A destination that is proactive in its marketing initiatives and product enhancement. It also seeks to develop local tourism businesses for the development of the destination. The Destination of the Year encourages the local community's participation, promotes sustainability, executes events that highlight local culture and promotes tourist attractions.
- Hotel of the Year: San Ignacio Resort Hotel- A licensed hotel where service exceeds excellence; where positive attitude and attentiveness of staff are the norm. The hotel of the year offers exceptional value for money and is equipped with modern facilities and amenities. Its ambience gives visitors an authentic Belize 'feel'. This hotel has, over the years, demonstrated its willingness to adapt to the demands of its patrons, yet remain true to its core values. One of its hallmarks is the adoption of green initiatives.
- Small Hotel of the Year: Singing Sands Inn- A licensed small hotel that captures the essence of warmth and authenticity through its accommodations. This property displays commitment to excellence in customer service, operational standards and is keen on improving and developing its products and services, including capacity building. Importantly, for this small hotel of the year, eco-consciousness and sustainability are equally important to guests' experience.
- Frontline Person of the Year: Natalie Ranguy of Chabil Mar Villas- A frontline employee who has great interpersonal skills, welcomes guests with outstanding Belizean hospitality, is knowledgeable about Belize, and goes above and beyond the everyday duties and responsibilities to ensure that guests' needs are fulfilled. This individual makes an impressive first and last impression of her work place.
- Tour Guide of the Year: Jerome Williams of Huracan Diving- A licensed tour guide who is knowledgeable about Belize, including, but not limited to, the history, natural attractions and local tours. This guide has excellent communication and interpersonal skills, a positive attitude, and great planning and leadership abilities. The tour guide ensures that guests have an unforgettable experience without compromising safety and security.
- Tour Operator of the Year: Splash Dive Center- A licensed tour operator that excels in customer service, creativity, and personalization, while offering a variety of tours. This tour operator sets the bar for marketing initiatives, meeting the standards of safety and security, equipment quality, cleanliness and reliability. This awardee ensures that visitors have a memorable and enriching experience, therefore, leaving guests with a great lasting impression of Belize.
- Hospitality Award: Placencia Tourism Center- A tourism ancillary organization that offers exceptional customer service, manages the business seamlessly, is sensitive to the needs of staff, flexible in adapting to change and accommodating to the industry's needs. Regardless of the availability of resources, this entity is always looking for innovative ways to promote Belize through its hospitality services.
- Major Festival & Event: Placencia Lobster Fest- A hallmark festival/event that promotes income generating activities, stimulates local and international travel, attracts national & international media coverage, and positively promotes the destination.
- Restaurant of the Year: Maya Beach Bistro- A restaurant that offers more than just really good food, but an overall dining experience. The restaurant's ambiance, coupled with a menu of creative concoctions and excellent customer service, creates its own distinctive character. The use of local products and importance of food safety and hygiene, sell the Belize brand from appetizer to dessert.
Minister of Tourism & Culture, Hon. Manuel Heredia, presented two special awards for the night. The Minister's Award was bestowed on David Heredia, owner of Anchorage Hotel in Caye Caulker, for his work and interest in the tourism industry which are grounded in community improvement and activism. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Jessie Young, President of the Community Baboon Sanctuary Women's Group in Bermudian Landing, for dedicating her life to grow and develop Belize's tourism industry. This awardee's contributions are significant and have positively impacted Belize and the lives of countless Belizeans. Despite challenges, this tourism industry lifetime achiever persevered.
Guests, donned in all-white, at the 12th National Tourism Awards were treated to food by Chef Sean Kuylen, and entertained by Pan Tempters Steel Pan, Tanya Carter and Aurelio Martinez. The event was hosted by Indira Craig & William Neal.
The Minister of Tourism & Culture, Board of Directors, Management & Staff of the Belize Tourism Board salute all winners on their outstanding achievements!
For more information, visit www.travelbelize.org.
For More Photos of the event CLICK HERE