Dear BTIA Member/Industry Stakeholder:
Is it possible that a full year has passed since BTIA’s last Annual General meeting? Whether you feel like the last twelve months would never end or that the period just Zoomed by (pun intended), there are few of us who are nostalgic for the “good old days” of 2021. For our Covid-19 ravaged industry it was a time of lost high season followed by a hopeful summer of pent-up travel demand and a peak Christmas season that has us busy and increasingly confident but not altogether sure what lies ahead.
Now, in the middle of all this “optimistic uncertainty” you are being asked to renew your BTIA membership by responding to the attached invoice. If you have been following industry developments you will know what your BTIA has been doing for the last twelve months; if not permit me to remind you.
From a position of virtually no cash and no staff in December of 2020 the finances of BTIA have recovered to the point that we have hired an Executive Director—Linette Canto– and are advertising for an administrative assistant. Our Tourism Information Centers around the country are reopening and expanding to new destinations. And our voice is being heard loud and clear from the halls of official power to the cities, towns and villages where thousands of our vital constituents are returning to work at rewarding jobs that provide crucial sustenance for their families.
What made this turnaround possible?
Hard work by our Executive Committee, Board of Directors and Chapter Boards—all volunteers.
The generosity of MarFund, the Belize Tourism Board and Atlantic Group of Companies—three organizations who have concluded that a vibrant private sector organization representing Belize’s major industry is vital to the nation’s economic recovery and long term prosperity.
Most importantly, the good sense of our loyal members who know that the only way to successfully face a crisis is to pull together and find that there is strength in unity.
Aside from rebuilding our organization internally what are a few of the many things accomplished in 2021?
- Engaging with the Belize Tourism Board and Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations to form a meaningful partnership to formulate commonsense policies that stimulate visitor arrivals while at the same time safeguarding the nation’s health.
- Advocating with DFC, the private banks and other institutions to provide loans and re-financing to all facets of the hard hit tourism industry.
- Working steadily through our position on the Airline Development Committee to persuade new airlines to serve Belize from new ports of entry as well as hasten the return of traditional carriers.
- Providing vital input on marketing campaigns conducted by BTB and our PR agencies abroad along with valuable room, tour and entertainment inventory for fam trips by travel trade and journalists.
- Initiating an ongoing nationwide public campaign using banners and bumper stickers to “Don’t Hesitate. Vaccinate”, while at the same time successfully urging tourism stakeholders to achieve the highest vaccination rates in the country.
And what lies ahead in 2022 beyond continuation of the above?
- Creating new training programs to rebuild skill levels that deteriorated during almost two years of pandemic and setting the stage for the establishment of a much needed tourism training institute.
- Bringing together the industry’s best minds in a summit entitled “Reimagining Belizean Tourism”.
- Enacting programs to reward our frontline healthcare workers who have labored tirelessly at great risk to themselves and families.
- Initiate a public awareness campaign that educates Belizeans on the important role played by the tourism industry and its key role in the nation’s economy.
Please help make 2022 the best year ever for Belizean tourism. If you are a current BTIA member we ask for your continued support. If you are a past member whose pandemic-ravaged budget did not allow you to rejoin last year please give it some thought and help us fuel the industry’s rebound and transformation. We look forward to a positive response and hope you will join us for what promises to be a mercifully short but meaningful virtual AGM on January 20.
Please note that in addition to making payment, we would like all members to download and fill out the attached application forms and submit to [email protected] so we can update our files with new contact information and personnel changes.
Yours in Sustainable Tourism,
Stewart Krohn, BTIA President