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Oct 18, 2019

Cultural Immersion Trends at the Annual Tourism Conference

Tourism numbers in the past three years have been showing double digit growth signalling that Belize is a top destination. Today, the Belize Tourism Board held a conference with the theme, Destination Marketing and its Impact on Belize. While the jewel is known for beach and sand, the conference is focusing on cultural emersion trends that allow visitors and travellers to experience the uniqueness of Belize’s food, music and culture. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The Belize Tourism Board held its annual tourism conference today at the Biltmore Plaza in Belize City. The event, which brings together industry stakeholders and international experts under one roof, provides a space for dialogue on the trends and markets to interest not only the tourist, but the traveller. It serves as an opportunity to look at where the tourism industry is and where it is going.

 

Misty Michael, Director of Marketing & Industry Relations, B.T.B.

“We are focusing a little bit more on some of the challenges that the industry faces. There is a panellist speaking about the sargassum issue. We have crime and security and a few others.”


Duane Moody

“Where are we right now in terms of the industry? Are we where we are supposed to be?”

 

Misty Michael

“We are definitely headed in the right direction. Last year we experienced the third consecutive year of double digit growth. I think we have definitely done a really good job of creating that awareness of Belize. People know where Belize is; they have either been here, they know somebody who has been here; they have it on their bucket-list to come. I think our work will continue to focus now on making that conversion. You know where it is, but now we want to actually get you here so we want to continue working towards increasing visitor arrivals as well as increasing their time in country and their spend while here.”

 

This year, the theme is “Destination Marketing and its Impact on Belize.” There is a specific focus on the cultural experience in Belize. One of the panel discussions was on cultural emersion trends; keynote speaker was Stephanie Jones, the C.E.O. and President of the Cultural Heritage Alliance for Tourism Incorporated located in the U.S.  She says that stakeholders must be able to distinguish the difference between a tourist and a traveller.

 

Stephanie Jones, C.E.O. & President, Cultural Heritage Alliance for Tourism Inc.

“A tourist, they typically want a more planned out experience that provides more convenience and comfort, while a traveller wants to get on the local bus and go live it up and mix it up with the local people and have dinner with the locals and go to the countryside and explore the jungles. They want those immersive experiences. Cultural emersion is really about the people because we are really all cultural beings. And it is about the destination and how they go about engaging their local community assets to provide these local cultural emersion experiences to tourists when they are visiting a destination. Tourists want to have these local engagement and immersive experiences with local people. They want to be engaged in the cultural through the food, through the music, through the dance, through the arts and just local exchanges because it makes the experience so much more memorable when you are travelling and you also get to learn about a destination from a local perspective.”

 

So what kinds of programmes are in place for stakeholders to ensure that the visitor experience is reflective of Belizean culture, food and the like? The Belize Tourism Board, through its Quality Assurance Department, has worked with grassroots persons and other stakeholders to make sure that the interactions with tourists are authentic and a great representation of Belize.

 

Misty Michael

“I think we are well on our way. Our first speaker this morning said it herself that Belize is definitely a model for other destinations. We’ve really honed in on the fact that one of the unique things about the destination is all of the culture that pervades the industry. And I think now, it is working towards letting not just industry stakeholders, but the general population to create a wider awareness that everybody has a role to play in that cultural experience for a visitor.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.


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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