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May 4, 2012

Honing skills to start up and manage your own company

Have you ever thought about honing the skills necessary to open and manage your own business that caters to tourists visiting the jewel? The Belize Tourism Board, through the Sustainable Development Program, is offering three training sessions in Belize City, Dangriga and Punta Gorda.  Although limited only to twenty-five persons each, the training is intended to boost cultural tourism in vendors and trainers; matching Belize’s cultural identity to its products and services while building their respective business capacity. The training is one of the key tools for the participants to qualify for a matching grant via the government from the Inter-American Development Bank. And today, one of the sessions concluded at the ITVET.

 

Christy Mastry, Project Director, Sustainable Development Program

Christy Mastry

“The purpose of the training is very much twofold as well. It’s the fact that after the training session happens, the person can qualify for small matching grants in order to help facilitate the startup business of any kind of small and microenterprise businesses all focused under cultural tourism—something that we are focusing with the tourism master plan to promote. And it really is engaging the cultures within each of the destinations as we will be building in both Placencia, Belize City, San Pedro and San Ignacio. The reality is that a lot of the money from the STP are going into constriction projects. And it is wonderful to have physical projects on the ground and wonderful properties that we have and the different resorts. And as an architect, I do find that that is an amazing thing to do, but it is also interesting to know that a lot of physical imperfections can be really smoothly over by the personal touch. And the fact that we need to invest as much as we do in the physical parameters that we are putting on the ground as the people because at the end of the day, you talk to all different resorts all over the world—the highest end of the resort—and it is really the people that end up making the different.”

 

Laura Esquivel Frampton

Laura Esquivel Frampton, Director of Quality Assurance, B.T.B.

“Still when we do our surveys, we find that yes our marketing gets us a long way, but what helps us for people to finally make the decision to come to Belize is that word of mouth. So we need to ensure that when people come to Belize, their experience is so authentic and so good that they want to tell their friends and families to come here—nothing like word of mouth for good marketing for our country.  Unfortunately for a lot of our Belizeans, tourism has happened around them or to them, but it hasn’t really impacted them. And a lot of entrepreneurs have seen an opportunity and said oh well maybe I could get a nice vendor stall and I can start to sell things. But they don’t really have that outside training to tell them; how do you abroad the tourist, what exactly does the tourist want? And to say they want to know your culture. They don’t really want to buy a trinket made in china. They want to buy something authentic. But unfortunately, many of our vendors and persons who are in business in the tourism industry, the only influence they have to see in what people are doing is what people are doing in Mexico and in El Salvador. And so they bring in the Mexican products and Salvadoran products. But no what people want more and more when we get those surveys back from those cruise ships—particularly for Belize City, but even the overnight tourists—they want authentic; they want to engage. That is our kind of tourist—they are not the really young party goers. Our tourists are people who want to experience our country and our culture.  What we found is that we have a number of extremely talented people in Belize; we all know this. And they make beautiful arts and craft; they have beautiful services to offer, but they don’t know how to get it to the market and they don’t know who their market is. And that is what we are trying to accomplish here.”

 

In order to apply for the grant, interested persons needed to attend the training.

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