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Nov 17, 2016

European Cruise Line Makes First Appearance in Belize

And while NCL opened its port down south and will no longer be calling at the Fort Street Tourist Village here in the City, tour operators here are getting ready for European cruise visitors. For the first time German-based cruise line TUI made a call to Belize. This new market means that big tour operators will be investing and adjusting to meet the demands of this new market. For Chukka Caribbean Adventures, they were the choice operator for a big group of the Europeans who came in today. As a part of meeting the wants of the new market, Chukka introduced a bike tour. The visitors who were in full cycling gears and lead by a Chukka guide did bike tours from Old Belize, as well as Bacab. News Five spoke with Idorine Vernon who tells us how they are preparing for this market.

 

Idorine Vernon

Idorine Vernon, Cruise Operations Manager, CHUKKA Caribbean Adventures

“Today, we had mostly activity tours and they also asked us to facilitate with our guides to do a bike tour; something that we have never really done, have done here in Belize. We are excited to have the call, as you know today NCL opened its new port down south. So, we are happy to have TUI in and in less than a month or so we should be having MSC, which is another European cruise line. It is very fortunate for us as a cruise company to be able to be tour operator of choice to offer our activity tour, such as cave tubing and our bike tours; bringing something new to Belize. This is in conjunction with B.T.B. and their assistance; some of the stuff to enhance these experiences with these guests coming from Europe. The main thing is that we will be able to facilitate them so that we might have more traffic coming this way in terms of the European Tourism and that market. Most of our guides as you know are English and Spanish speaking. With the help of Government agents that they can open some programs or start some kind of training to help facilitate these experiences when these guests come to Belize; German, French and Italian, to name the more common languages. Through B.T.B., we have done some videos and auto-recordings for them to have a better experience on the tour buses.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now, looking at these tourists, of course, there will be different demands; how do they differ from the American market that you guys have been serving for long. Are they perhaps looking for more comfort or more adventure; or they want different experiences. We see they are asking for the bike tour?”

 

Idorine Vernon

“Right. They are a very adventurous set. I can definitely say that you will get very honest feedback on their experiences here in Belize and our destination. They are more into, the main focus for these guest is for them to get an experience where they can understand and they can appreciate what we have to offer. The communication is important.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Who are the kind of people who are coming on those ships to visit Belize?”

 

Idorine Vernon

“The type of guest that came off TUI I would say that average age would be forty. They are very adventurous and want to seek and see this side of the world; especially Belize which is a small country.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“In terms of spending on land, perhaps for gift shops, do you think people would see a little increase in the buying of souvenirs and even food?”

 

Idorine Vernon

“Well, yes, they are very much into our culture, our food, what we have to offer. I guess the souvenirs and all of that it all depends on vendors and how they promote their items and their approach is very important. Their approach – being respectable, kind, treating the guests with a lot of respect and that Belizean love.”

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