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May 26, 2022

BTIA’sTourism Summit – Reimagining Belizean Tourism

The Belize Tourism Industry Association, B.T.I.A., held a Summit today that drew members from far and wide to hear about efforts to improve formal training for those in tourism, and how stakeholders should prepare their businesses for the future. The event, which bore the theme, ‘Reimagining Belizean Tourism’, took place this morning at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel. Marion Ali was there and filed this report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

The opening ceremony for the event established a setting of planning, preparation, and reflection on the brutal impacts of COVID on the industry. B.T.I.A. President, Stewart Krohn expressed regret that not enough people heeded the advice to take their COVID vaccines and the fact that the pandemic claimed so many people, both from the industry, as well as from other sectors. Krohn also urged everyone to look beyond just the horizon.


Stewart Krohn

Stewart Krohn, President, B.T.I.A.

“Try and think where we’re going as an industry, as a nation, as a people. We have a lot to offer to our country and it’s going to require some – I would say, yes, we all know it requires hard work, but it’s not hard work alone that is going to make us succeed. It’s hard work, but sometimes we have to think, okay, we have to think beyond what’s for lunch today.”


Former Bahamian Tourism Minister, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, who was today’s guest speaker, advised that key elements are needed in order to make the tourism product wholesome.


Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Keynote Speaker, B.T.I.A., Summit

“What are we really talking about in terms of measures of success? What are we talking about? When we start talking about that – it’s very important, visitor nights, which translates into occupancy. If you have this facility that you have built with a hundred rooms, but every night you’re only filling forty rooms, but you keep talking about getting new investors, you’ve got a new investor right here with sixty rooms vacant. So try and figure out ways to begin to expand the occupancy and expand the visitor night, which is very important. The second part of it is the visitor experience. There is no substitute for it; none whatsoever. People walking away saying they’re going to recommend you and they are going to come back because of the wonderful experience – there’s no substitute for that.”


An integral part of the preparation for today’s event included collaboration with the University of Belize, whose Interim President, Dr. Vincent Palacio, shared that the university’s new effort to streamline its tourism course is a serious attempt to produce better quality tourism students.


Dr. Vincent Palacio

Dr. Vincent Palacio, Interim President, U.B.

“We are currently reviewing the National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan and we are in conversation in establishing a National Tourism Training Institute. You told us that our tourism graduates had too much management skills and not enough hospitality skills. What we did, we went back and developed a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. We incorporated a class called communication skills in the curriculum for every tourism student. And you said they don’t write too well. The Bachelor’s level students have to take a technical Writing course. Come August, every student who enrolls into the University of Belize, not just our tourism student, will have to take a class called Critical Thinking.”


One of the upgrades that U.B. has taken to better prepare its tourism course is to make the course more available at all its sites across the country, as well as online for ease of access to people already employed.


Marion Ali 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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