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Jul 2, 2021

Belize Hotel Association Holds its Annual General Meeting

The Belize Hotel Association hosted its annual general meeting today at the Biltmore Plaza in Belize City.  The AGM served as an opportunity to meet face-to-face after a long time apart, and to share issues of concern to the six hundred hoteliers and property owners who form the BHA membership. Today’s meeting addressed the COVID-19 pandemic and explored how to re-energise the industry. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Pre-COVID, tourism contributed over forty-five percent of Belize’s G.D.P. and was one of the main industries shattered by the pandemic. The IMF, however, reported that Belize was the eighth most affected country. Outgoing Belize Hotel Association President, Ted Tejada says that it is time for the industry to reset, rebound and re-energise.

 

Ted Tejada

Ted Tejada, Outgoing President, Belize Hotel Association

“Belize as a country is bouncing back very good. Actually when I was looking at the flights for July, we are at seventy-two percent in terms of 2019. And let me tell you that by November of this year, we’re going to be at a hundred and eleven percent seats available for Belize. So we are positioning ourselves not to be forty-five percent of the G.D.P., we’re positioning ourselves to be fifty-five percent by the end of this year.”

 

But the data shows that this year, many hotels have still not rebounded. Tejada speaks about the casualties of the pandemic.

 

Ted Tejada

“This pandemic has caused some casualties in terms of human casualties, but it has also brought in some business casualties. And when we are looking at having a hundred and eleven percent increase in seat availability by November of this year and we have a casualty of a little bit over two thousand hotel rooms that have not come onboard. This is why this conference is so important for our stakeholders. We are urging them, the airlines are coming in, the seats are coming in; we need you.”

 

Nicole Solano

Nicole Solano, C.E.O., Ministry of Tourism & Diaspora Relations

“The pandemic has of course been very difficult on the industry and we cannot underestimate the difficulties that they have faced. A lot of the industry has come back and we have seen new hotels come in. so we don’t expect to have an issue with the amount of hotel rooms available in the winter. It is something that we are monitoring and making sure that we don’t have an issue there. But there’s also a very specific effort to try and look for those properties that will be able to open, they haven’t opened yet, they haven’t gotten their gold standards or they need additional help such as the small matching grants program. Maybe some of these things can help them. So the [Belize] Tourism Board is looking at ways to see how we can get those people who aren’t onboard yet onboard in time for the winter season.”

 

The reality on the ground is that many have completely sold their assets due to the pandemic, but there are some resorts that are on the verge of considering getting certified. So to help motivate them, Raphael Saul, a motivational speaker from Barbados was brought in to address the BHA membership. Barbados’ economy is primarily dependent on tourism for foreign exchange and employment. Saul says that it is time to look beyond the pandemic.

 

Raphael Saul

Raphael Saul, Keynote Speaker

“We are seeing the devastation that COVID really has caused across the tourism industry in Barbados and many other countries across the Caribbean as well. Nevertheless, I think for a lot of these properties and operators, there is still so much unique value that they got to offer. One of the first things you’ve gotta do, you’ve gotta get pass and let go of the challenges that have gone over the past eighteen months. It’s been difficult; we know it. I don’t know any industry that has been spared the negative impact of it. It doesn’t mean that you can’t rebound or bounce back from it. I have been encouraging them to look at the unique value, what makes them special, what made them so successful over 2018 2019, embrace the lessons that need to be learnt from the last eighteen months, of 2020, because we are not going back. Everybody’s talking about the going back to normal. There is no going back to normal. There is a new normal that is being established. How do we then position ourselves to be successful in this new normal? What do our customers expect? How do we need to adjust our processes and our approaches to ensure that we are relevant, we are on point and we are serving them with excellence even though things have changed? COVID protocols, taking into consideration everything, this is a new world and every operator with a unique value to offer like all the ones in Belize, still have a great chance of being successful as long as you are seeing yourself as being positioned to do that.”

 

The theme for this year’s AGM is “Data is Our New Currency.” 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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