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Jan 24, 2008

…But consultant says Belize is well positioned for growth

Story PictureThe man who will drive the effort to attract new airlines and the expansion of existing routes is Martin Copeland. Copeland, a Canadian based consultant with long experience in the airline industry, believes that despite the tight conditions faced by airlines around the world, Belize has the attractions to get their attention.

Martin Copeland, Aviation Consutlant
“There’s very good reasons for optimism, you have very diversified attractions, you have the Mayan Ruins, you have the beaches, scuba-diving, all the water sports. I’ve worked for St. Martin, for Puerto Rico and what Belize has to offer is very good. It’s a real opportunity and you’re close to a nation of three hundred million people and you have that diversified attractions really gives you a balance for a lot of travel in the future. Now what we have to do is to get more airlifts coming in and to allow those consumers from Canada and the United States to come here, make it easier for them.”

Stewart Krohn
“You mentioned Canada; their dollar is stronger, their—over the last few years the numbers of Canadians has increased drastically. Is it realistic for us to make a big push to get more Canadian tours?”

Martin Copeland
“Absolutely. Canada, as you know, is a pretty cold country in the winter time and Canadians are always looking for sun destinations to break that winter in the cold and with a dollar increasing its purchase ability that’s really … it’s a good opportunity. Canadians really travel to the Caribbean and Central America and Mexico so Belize has so much to offer that we are gonna get more Canadians coming here.”

Stewart Krohn
“To try and break the law jam and really get some increased airlift, how necessary is it for Belize to develop some larger hotel properties?”

Martin Copeland
“Larger hotel properties would help. Right now you have about fifty-seven hundred rooms that are not always the quality of rooms that tourists are looking for but, as I understand it, there’s a lot of interest by hotels in developing the properties and that will assist tourists coming here. Hotels on their own have their own marketing efforts and that helps. When you get a brand hotel that helps you get more visitors.”

According to Copeland, the lead time for attracting new airlines and routes can range from six months to two years and involves extensive research and lengthy negotiations. The five international airlines providing service from seven U.S. cities during the first four months of 2007 filled an average of seventy point one percent of their seats. The highest load factor—eighty six percent—was on Continental’s weekly nonstop flight from Newark. According to Copeland’s research, the most promising new North American routes for Belize are New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago, Orlando and Toronto. As for Europe, he suggests a route from London that teams with the Cayman Islands, Cuba or a Central American destination.

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