BTB discusses impact of and response to 2022 shooting in San Pedro
The Belize Tourism Board has said that it is hoping there is no major blowback to the tourism industry following the December 30 shooting, which cost American nursing student, J’Bria Bowens her life. Given that the incident happened in San Pedro, the country’s leading tourist destination, we asked the Belize Tourism Board about what the response to the incident was and whether they are concerned about the impact. We spoke to Abil Castaneda, BTB’s Director for Capacity Development.
Abil Castaneda, Director, Quality Management and Capacity Development, BTB: “These types of events unfortunately do bring in a significant impact and it is an impact that you won’t necessarily see immediately but you may see a few months down the road. I must say that in this case with the incident that involved Miss Bowens in San Pedro the level of attention that it received from the local authorities, from local agencies including the Belize Tourism Board ensured that we did all that we could do to manage the situation in a way that we could safely say that the impact on Belize as a destination would not be as high as it would have been if nothing was done. Many things are working in our favor as it relates to this particular incident one of it is that the work of the police which was very swift in arresting the suspects is something that goes a long way. A lot of the time when these incidents happen outside of the US and other countries and even in our countries in the past a lot of it goes unsolved and it creates this sort of issue that the countries are not able and capable of dealing with the crime situation so I think that went a very long way in us being able to answer many of the questions that were coming especially from the family at that time. We as an organization here at the BTB also are putting together and have been putting together for the past two months a post emergency sort of care program where if there is any particular type of issue that comes up that may need some sort of support for our guests that are here in Belize we would be able to provide some of that support. So that is something that we have learned as we have gone in managing these types of crises. Michelle and her team at the marketing department also did an excellent job in ensuring that we also answered the question that the media needed answering especially the international media and staying on top of things to ensure that the communication and the message that comes out is one that is more positive albeit the situation being a very unfortunate one.”