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Sep 13, 2006

BETEX is a hit with travel agents, local operators

Story PictureIt’s an event at which Belize’s tourism product puts its best foot forward for an audience of visiting travel professionals. News Five’s Alyssa Noble has more.

Alyssa Noble, reporting
It?s Marketplace Day One at the 2006 Belize Tourism Expo, and this morning organizers held a press conference at the Princess Hotel and Casino to welcome both local and international media to what is being promoted as Belize?s most important tourism event. And though the show is meant to market and sell Belize to the world, it was unclear how we were being marketed, that is … until Minister of Tourism, Godfrey Smith clarified.

Godfrey Smith, Minister of Tourism
?Absolutely, the focus of the country is on over night tourism. The first point is that when you look at the overall tourism revenues coming into Belize, over night stays account for eighty percent of all revenues, cruise accounts for twenty percent. Even though we have felt obliged to take advantage of the opportunity cruise tourism offer especially in terms of Belize City; the focus has to be on keeping the reputation of Belize as an eco-destination.?

And at least one of the one hundred and forty international buyers and travel agents seems to agree.

Darlene Cornelius, Carlson Travel Agency, Central Illinois, U.S.A.
?I am enjoying it immensely. I am familiar with Belize but I?ve learned a tremendous amount. I?ve been very pleased with the experience. I like the fact that you?re upscale. I like the fact that you?re pushing eco-tourism and I like the fact that you aren?t trying to compete with Cancun. I think it matches a lot of the needs for the Midwest in general, say from Ohio to Kansas or Nebraska. The soft adventure is beginning to build in the Midwest and another thing I have found is the weddings. We have a tremendous amount of requests for weddings outside of the country. That seems to have hit the Midwest like gangbusters and I?ve picked up on a lot of that since I?ve been here.?

Other visitors are equally impressed by the many displays and the coordination of the exposition.

Theresa Strecklin, Palasky Tours and Travel, California, U.S.A.
?Well this is our first Expo, so we didn?t really have big expectations but we are so satisfied. The people here are wonderful, the people are so helpful. We kinda didn?t know what to expect, but we?re learning and we?re just enjoying all the exhibitions. And like I said everybody is helpful and that?s just more than you can ever hope for. We didn?t know what to expect so we are very satisfied.?

Tammy Randolph,, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.
?Well I frequently visit the Travel Age West Show in Las Vegas, and Las Vegas is the capital of conventions and I was just explaining that this is very impressive. It?s comparable to what the biggest trade shows we have in Vegas. Everybody has been nice and accommodating and it?s well planned.?

But BETEX has not only been beneficial to international visitors. Local suppliers and participants are also reaping rewards.

Catherine Paz, Station Manager-San Pedro, Tropic Air
?BETEX also in 2004 and still in 2006 has been great for Tropic. We meet new agents, we meet new people that have heard about Belize and want to sell Belize, and that?s why we?re here to show everyone what we have to offer, as an airline and as a country.?

Linda Smith, Laru Beya Resorts and Villas
?You know we have our booth, but we also are networking and that?s my primary responsibility is to do a lot of networking so that we can set up and have contacts in other parts of Belize. And this has been excellent.?

The Marketplace will conclude tomorrow with the announcement of BETEX?s Best Booth Winner who will receive a collection of travel related prizes valued at $15,000. Reporting for News Five, I am Alyssa Noble.

The Expo will be open to the Belizean public free of cost between the hours of two and four Thursday afternoon, at which time they can vote for their favourite booth.

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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