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Oct 12, 2012

Belize promoted at the Central American Travel Market 2012

The Central America Travel Market is the largest tourism trade show in this region. It provides the opportunity for tourism service providers from the seven countries in Central America, including Belize, to market themselves to hundreds of wholesalers from across the globe. The event is held annually and is hosted in a different Central American country each year. This year’s two day fair was held on October fifth and sixth in Honduras’ industrial capital: San Pedro Sula.  Jorge Tabora and I joined the Belize Tourism Board, Belize Tourism Industry Association and the rest of the Belize delegation at the event. Here’s that report.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

The preparations for the ninth annual Central American Travel Market began a year in advance. Host country, Honduras, organized the two day business conference at the new exhibition center Expocentro. The inaugural event was held on Thursday October fourth at Club Arabe Hondureno with short welcome from Minister Nelly Jerez and other dignitaries followed by a night of cultural presentations music and dance. The main event though started on Friday October fifth with the ribbon cutting ceremony and the beginning of the trade show.


[Highlight of ribbon cutting…]


There were approximately one hundred fifty wholesalers from sixteen different countries. All of whom were eager to discover what Central America had to offer. Some of the wholesalers move as much as four million people per year towards the Latin market. An encounter at CATM could lead to recommendations from wholesalers or better yet the possibility of being included in a new travel package. Needless to say, every country represented was ready to showcase their finest.


[Highlight of the different booths…]


Tourism operators showcased their hotels, tour, service or product. The largest group was organized by the host country Honduras with forty booths. Costa Rica had a strong presence of twenty-nine booths; Nicaragua with twenty-seven; Belize was significantly visible with their twenty-four booths; Guatemala with twenty-two and El Salvador & Panama were more modest with twelve and six respectively. Individual countries showcased themselves in captivating and colorful booths which housed the individual companies. For them the cultural displays and details in presentation were worth all the effort and finance they invested.


Julio Sibrian

Julio Sibrian, Executive Assistant to Minister of Tourism, El Salvador

“What we try to show is that if you go to El Salvador; how does the Pueblo looks like—the colors, the flowers, the life. That is the message that we are trying to show and if you walk through our stand and you talk to the different businesses that we have here and the entrepreneurs; you will discover the warmth of all El Salvadorans.”


While El Salvador focused on Pueblo Viejos detouring from their main attractions as a beach & surfing destination. Guatemala kept with their Maya attraction and capitalized on the thirteen Baktun.


Maru Asevado

Maru Asevado, Vice Minister of Tourism, Guatemala

“We are promoting our country as the heartland of the Maya World. So the people that decide to come to Guatemala they are willing to learn about our culture, to share with our people, to experience our nature, our traditions. And we have a variety of the destinations. The weather is very nice and you can move from one place to another in little time. So I think we have a lot of reasons to decide to come to Guatemala.”


As for Belize:


Alyssa Carnegie

Alyssa Carnegie, Director of Marketing, Belize Tourism Board

“So what we do when we come here is to promote Belize, share it with the rest of the world, share it with the participants, but we also get a chance to visit and see what our competitors are doing—to learn from them; see what their trends area, see what the offerings are. And listen to people like the travel agents and the wholesalers and people who are selling Belize and see what’s the difficulty; what’s the challenge or what is working well.”


Efren Perez

Efren Perez, Executive Director, Belize Tourism Industry Association

“What creates the interest is that it’s a growing market; it’s not as well known internationally. And a lot of the people who are coming room central & south America. They want to know more; they want to know culture. One of the things when they come to the booth you people are amazing; it’s just the culture and that is what interests them. Second thing also is that we are an English speaking country and fro them it is a plus because most of their clients would speak English. And we also speak Spanish; so it gives us both areas.”


But of course; it’s a buyer’s market. So what are the wholesalers looking for? Sheryl Weinberger is one of many buyers at CATM this year; she operates “Best Single Travel” out of Florida.


Marleni Cuellar

“This is your first CATM. How did you find out about it?”


Sheryl Weinberger, Best Single Travel

Sheryl Weinberger

“I actually when to a bam in Buenos Aires and one of the local tour operators from Honduras invited me here.”


Marleni Cuellar

“And what has been your impression so far?”


Sheryl Weinberger

“Oh I love it. Honduras is so interesting and this is great. I’ve met a lot of people and different operators from all over the different countries; Belize especially. I didn’t know of Belize and that was one my goals was to find Belize and I think I found a couple of good operators here; I plan on offering Belize twice a year.”


Marleni Cuellar

“Now you are a buyer here in CATM. What are you looking for? What makes a destination or a tour more attractive?”


Sheryl Weinberger

“Well we’re looking for the typical tour—just nature. We like culture; my people like culture and want to see everything. We want to see the whole world and I don’t think Central America has been touched yet and I think it’s a great destination.”


This year’s CATM was estimated to produce twenty million dollars in sales for the Central American Region. How much of that would Belize benefit from? It’s tough to say since nothing is finalized as yet but the Belizean operators are very optimistic.


Michael Preston

Michael Preston, Director of Marketing, Midas Resort, Cayo

“A lot of old travelers they’ve done Europe, they’ve done Australia. So now it’s something new and everyone is tired of all the all inclusive and just looking for boutique hotels and the average hotel in Belize is only twelve rooms. So it doesn’t matter where you are in Belize, you’re in a boutique hotel.”


Julie Kee

Julie Kee, Customer Accts Manager, Tropic Air

“With Belize on a whole, it’s just been a positive thing they’ve been asking how do we get there where; should we stay and that’s what everybody is here for—to answer those questions. They love the people and it’s just been pretty much on the map right now and everybody wants to know everything about Belize.”


Patricia Ramirez, Splash Dive Tours, Placencia

Patricia Ramirez

“We have met almost with about seventy people and we will be about attending about thirty more including the press. So we are very excited because we have new products to offer and we will be showing them when they come to Belize so it’ll be a great exposure for Splash.”


According to the delegation the main concerns fielded by buyers about Belize were in regards to security, room availability, infrastructure and cost of air travel.


Earlier this week forty five agents, buyers and international press travelled to Belize at the end of CATM for a post-tour in the tourist areas of Belize. Similarly, we were invited to a tour of Honduras’ tourist sites; that travel feature will air on Open Your Eyes next week.

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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1 Response for “Belize promoted at the Central American Travel Market 2012”

  1. Alex ninjah says:

    This is one of the best news cast in a while, lot of positive stories.

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