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Dec 2, 2009

BTIA’s says it’s hopeful amidst bleak tourism season

Story PictureThe number of visitors to Belize has declined by five point two percent and stakeholders in the Tourism Industry are feeling the pinch of the economic downturn. On Tuesday, a News Five team found hotel occupancy at its lowest in San Pedro, a prime destination. But despite the bleak outlook, at its Annual General Meeting today, the Belize Tourism Industry Association put its best foot forward and sounded optimistic. Marion Ali reports.

Marion Ali, Reporting
The past year for the Belize Tourism Industry Association has had its fair share of challenges, but the re-elected National Secretary, Valerie Woods, says there is renewed focus to help improve the tourism product.

Valerie Woods, Nat’l Sec., BTIA
“We’re gonna make a difference, we’re gonna be a lot better serving the needs of the industry and working hand in hand with government, trying to do the best we can to do things differently, creatively, innovatively to make tourism go beyond bar. Identifying what is the Belize product, what is it that we want and don’t want, how we’re going to strategize to get it, how we’re gonna earmark monies to implement it and get serious about coming up with a totally innovative way of doing marketing to get the people out there to appreciate the Belize product. There is no need for Belize to imitate what any other destination is doing. We have it all here.”

Woods believes there is hope on the horizon because of the Jewel’s unique attractions.

Valerie Woods
“We are optimistic as we go into 2010, despite the downturn in 2009. We recognize that this product that we call Belize is a product that has a fantastic future for experience. It’s a premiere product, you’re not gonna get this anywhere else in our Central American neighbourhood, but what we gotta do is get serious about the planning, about the marketing and about product development. What we’re talking about is added value experience, product development planning, making a more full-round experience for the visitor to make them want to come.”

But making visitors want to visit is a lot easier said that done. Woods acknowledges that there are serious challenges affecting the industry.

Valerie Woods
“The issues are common – marketing, high airfares, crime and a serious concerted effort at identifying direction, planning. A lot of the members that are surviving the recession and the effects are telling you listen, it cost me a lot more to get you as a guest into my hotel, to get your head on my hotel’s bed. So whereas before, if I may use the term in the glorious years where it was a lot easier, we could sit by the computer, send off a couple quotes and that was it, we’ve got to earn that.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism is also expected to introduce its master plan for tourism in the coming year. Reporting for News Five, I am Marion Ali.

As part of the A.G.M., the B.T.I.A. unveiled the cover image of its 2010 Annual Magazine for the industry. Meanwhile past Director at the Belize Tourism Board, Tracy Taegar, now with the B.T.I.A., says she has gotten a commitment from the B.T.B. of fifty thousand toward the BETEX fair in June of 2010. Also noteworthy is that Pedro Perez has been returned as Treasurer of the B.T.I.A.

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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