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Aug 3, 2015

What’s the Status of Belize’s Tourism Industry?

To coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of tourism in San Pedro, the 2015 Tourism Industry Conference was held in the prime tourism destination. On Saturday, the Fido’s Courtyard was the venue for one of the biggest events on the tourism calendar. It’s essentially an event where the Belize Tourism Board issues its report card on the progress of the industry in the previous year and charts the way forward to keep visitors coming to the Jewel. Industry partners and stakeholders focused on two major issues: service to attract the visitor and marketing to promote the industry. Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

This year, the 2015 Tourism Industry Conference featured several panel discussions which engaged stakeholders to dialogue on the theme “Service Excellence: A Silent Seller and Digital Marketing.

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism

“This year, we have changed this up a bit and have enhanced what once was the industry presentation into now a more inclusive and interactive experience for participants. While we will have an opportunity to look at the progress and achievements we have made in tourism in the past years, the newly improved model will also provide for you, our valued partners to learn about emerging trends and innovative ways in which we can approach our individual and collective efforts in onward sustainable tourism development.”

 

So how did Belize do? In 2014 alone, a record breaking one million plus tourists visited Belize, which according to the B.T.B. translated into more employment, increase trade and investment, entrepreneurial opportunities and overall investments.

 

Karen Bevans

Karen Bevans, Director of Tourism

“The industry is strong, it is stable, tourism is growing and there are many opportunities in new and emerging markets that the B.T.B. is looking at and is going after for the stakeholders.”

 

Reporter

“Looking specifically at the performance, what are we looking at for the first  half of the year and the second quarter, because we the media haven’t seen those figures as yet.”

 

Karen Bevans

“2014 was a stunning year. We had massive growth over nine percent in the overnight industry, over sixty-two percent in the cruise industry.”

 

But is the industry in trouble? In the first half 2015, there was a dip in the number of tourist arrivals. In both January and February of this year, there was a decrease of one percent and one point one percent, respectively, in arrivals. Director of Tourism, Karen Bevans says that that trend remained constant for the first half of 2015. The figures are, however, above the figures of 2013.

 

Karen Bevans

“2015 so far we had a one point two less growth than we had in 2014 in the first half of this year. But that is not to say that the industry is not growing. We are growing. Yes we had a very stunning year in 2014. Further to that and if you notice—and we went into the statistics—the area that we went down in is the Canadian market. Looking at our strategies and doing our research, we recognized that there was a devaluation of currency in the Canadian market. Last year, this time, we had a one to one more or less match with the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar. This year, it is at point eight. So the reduction or devaluation in the Canadian dollar affected the traveling from Canadians.”

 

Osmany Salas

And how do stakeholders score/grade the leadership of the B.T.B. in the tourism sector? President of the Belize Tourism Industry Association, Osmany Salas, says overall its grade is good, but there is room for improvement.

 

Osmany Salas, President, B.T.I.A.

“The B.T.B. has been doing a good job. We can improve. Everybody in the industry can improve. I represent the B.T.I.A. on the board of the B.T.B. and for us it is very important that the tourists that arrive…as important or even more important than the number of arrivals is the amount that they spend in Belize; the amount of money they spend. We at the B.T.I.A. are very interested in the per capita. So the numbers this year, in terms of overnight arrivals, have not been going up as previous years. But if you compared to years before than—2013 and before—they have been higher. So I think it is a good sign, but there is more work to be done. But overall I think they have been doing a good job.”

 

Bevans, who has been with the B.T.B. for the past sixteen months, says that her message is that the B.T.B. is stable. So what are the strategies for the industry going forward?

 

Karen Bevans

“The board and us then put in strategies in place to diversify, get into new and emerging markets. We cannot continue to do things the same and expect that the market is just going to grow and grow if we just look at the North America market. European and the South American travelers, the market is great, the market is big; major potential and we are looking at that now. If you recognize, lately we announced the COPA flight coming to Belize; that is a part of our strategy—diversifying and getting into new and emerging markets. We do know that there are certain properties that need to enhance in quality and standards and hence the reason again, another strategy to help with that is that we are implementing minimum standards for accommodations and properties to help with that to ensure that stakeholders who need some assistance or some kind of help, to uplift their standards. We help to bring them up to those standards so the rooms can be available and it goes hand in n with the increased airlifts, the increase room stock and we satisfy the demand.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “What’s the Status of Belize’s Tourism Industry?”

  1. Belizesoul says:

    Belize is going to blow it- big time- if you don’t get the crime wave under control!! Imagine an American or European tourist caught in gang crossfire- kiss those dollas goodbye.

  2. Sharon says:

    A bunch of morons esp at Btia – now that Cuba will low out belize – they notice they might need all tourists especially like cruise Ships they are suing gob to stop ncl- bunch of morons – let any tourist investor come before it’s too late and they go to Cuba

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