Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Enforcing Safety Regulations for Cave Tubing Tours

- Press Release, Belize City, Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 – Members of the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), the Ministry of Tourism and NICH met as a follow up to the September 8th meeting where discussions were made to equip tour guides and tour operators to exercise improved safety precautions when dealing with visitors who sign up for cave tubing adventures.

Agreed upon measures included:
1. he guide to guest ratio of 1 guide to 8 guests, as prescribed by law, will be enforced as a policy for use of the caves. This will come into effect on October 15th, 2008.

2. The Institute of Archaeology will install signs regarding policies that must be adhered to when using the cave system for tours.

3. The Belize Tourism Board will work in collaboration with NICH to increase the presence of Tourism Police in the area.

4. Staggered entrance to the caves will be implemented by the Institute of Archaeology.

The BTB will also work with the Institute of Archaeology to begin training programs. All tour guides wishing to take tours in the cave system will have to complete a mandatory training course given by the Institute of Archaeology and the Belize Tourism Board before November 2009. These include a 2-3 day theory course which will cover Caves and the Ancient Maya, Cave Safety, Cave Ethics, Cave Geology and Regulations for operating in caves and the penalties that will be levied if policies are not adhered to. The Belize Tourism Board will organize a five day course to cover Swift Water Rescue, Advanced First Aid and Cave Rescue.

In addition to the agreed upon measures, NICH and the Institute of Archaeology will procure monitoring equipment to test water levels, current and water flow. This will assist park management to determine when the park should be closed.

It is important to note that problem areas within the cave system have been identified and additional safety features will be addressed.

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