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Oct 13, 2022

Inaugural Elevate Training Expo Hosted by B.T.B.

Over two hundred tourism service providers are participating in the first annual Elevate Training Expo being hosted by the Belize Tourism Board in Belize City. The expo is providing tourism workers with over twenty different trainings hosted by lecturers from the Florida International University, and some of our very own experts. According to B.T.B., the Elevate Training Expo is assisting the industry in bridging a training gap brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports. 


Paul Lopez, Reporting

The inaugural Elevate Training Expo has brought tourism workers from across the sector for two days of learning how to improve their services and the overall visitor’s experience. Tour guides, those who work in accommodation, attraction managers, and restaurateurs, are among the many playing key roles in sustaining Belize’s tourism brand. We spoke with Abil Castaneda, the Director of Quality Management at the Belize Tourism Board.


Abil Castaneda

Abil Castaneda, Director Quality Management, Belize Tourism Board

“So today we are staring a two-day event. It is an expo that allows industry stakeholders, whether you are working in the industry, or looking to work in the industry, or interested in learning a little bit of the different aspects of what the industry offers. For example, we are providing over twenty different training courses over the next two days.   Today we are very happy and excited that we have, for instance, training on sommelier which is wine mastery. So we have people from the food and beverage industry, coming from restaurants, hotels, learning how to become wine masters, sommeliers.”


At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant migration of workers from the tourism industry into other sector, due to the collapse of global tourism. But, as the industry rebounded, new hires came on board.  We also heard from Nicole Solano, the CEO in the Ministry of Tourism.


Nicole Solano

Nicole Solano, C.E.O., Ministry of Tourism

“COVID changed everything. The industry was shut down for two years. So, a lot of people left the tourism industry and went into other industries like the BPO sector. So, the tourism industry was left with a gap really, in human resources. And, even the people who stayed, they themselves needed refresher courses to be able to see what the new innovative ways of doing things. They have to be able to train to update themselves and update their skills.”


The Belize Tourism Board has increased its training budget from twenty thousand dollars to close to one million dollars, since the Briceno Administration took office, according to Castaneda.


Abil Castaneda

“Training is always a very important part of product development. When the current administration came in, that is one of the main impetus, one of the main things they wanted to ensure we are promoting and building upon. We have done some substantial investments. I think the training budget before was around twenty thousand dollars. So, we are spending around almost close to a million dollars in different training initiatives.”


Recently, Conde’ Nast, known for iconic brands like Vogue, GQ, and the Vanity Fair, asked its readers to vote for countries they consider to be home to the friendliest people, in their 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards. Belize was voted in the top ten.


Nicole Solano

“Belize has long been known as a destination where people love to interact with our people. Being a friendly country is not something new. It is something that we had known through our motivation surveys that guest really does find Belizeans friendly, to be friendly. And bringing it back to the training, competency and warmth and hospitality combined is really what gives us that edge compared to other destinations.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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