The BTIA a broad-based tourism umbrella organization that seeks to bring together tourism related interests to meet the challenges of a dynamic and growing tourism industry in Belize.

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Travel Talk – Issue No. 12

BTIA host 38th Annual General Meeting under the theme “Tourism Means Business”
BTIA host 38th Annual General Meeting under the theme “Tourism Means Business”
President's Remarks
BTIA Caye Caulker Hosts AGM
BTIA Caye Caulker Hosts AGM
The BTIA Toledo Chapter looks Forward to Great Achievements in 2024
The BTIA Toledo Chapter looks Forward to Great Achievements in 2024
BTIA Attends Fort George Artisan Alley Inauguration Ceremony
BTIA Attends Fort George Artisan Alley Inauguration Ceremony
The Placencia BTIA Mistletoe Ball: A Resounding Success
The Placencia BTIA Mistletoe Ball: A Resounding Success
BTIA Dangriga Hosts Seafood Festival and Expo
BTIA Dangriga Hosts Seafood Festival and Expo
Save the Date
Save the Date




The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) convened its 38th Annual General Meeting on Friday, January 12th, at the Best Western Plus Biltmore Plaza, centering discussions around the theme “Tourism Means Business.” The event commenced with an insightful panel discussion, moderated by Marleni Cuellar, CEO of Great Belize Productions Limited. The distinguished panelists included Dr. Osmond Martinez, CEO in the Ministry of Economic Development, Dr. Henry Canton, Executive Director of Silk Grass Farms, and Mr. Alvin Henderson, Managing Director of Royal Mayan Shrimp Farm and President of the Belize Shrimp Growers’ Association (BSGA). The discussion shed light on the symbiotic relationship between tourism and agriculture, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts between the two sectors for mutual benefit.


The Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, Hon. Anthony Mahler, applauded the industry’s resilience, highlighting the remarkable rebound in 2023, with a 93% return of overnight arrivals compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. The Minister expressed confidence in the industry’s trajectory, mentioning that January 2024 had already shown strong indications of a promising year. In his address, he committed the government’s dedication to surpassing the 100% recovery threshold, both in overnight arrivals and the cruise sector, which experienced a robust rebound in 2023.


Keynote speaker Prime Minister Hon. John Briceno underscored the region’s economic growth, emphasizing the Caribbean’s vulnerability to climate change. He urged stakeholders to prioritize addressing climate change for the long-term sustainability of Belize. The Prime Minister acknowledged the pivotal role of the tourism sector in Belize’s growth and encouraged stakeholders to contribute to sustainable development.


During the meeting, BTIA President Stewart Krohn delivered remarks, highlighting the sector’s achievements and challenges. Executive Director Linette Canto welcomed participants, setting the tone for the productive gathering.


A crucial objective of the 38th Annual General Meeting was the election of Executive Committee members for the 2024/2025 term. Tamara Sniffin and Raineldo Guerrero were re-elected to the positions of 1st Vice President and Treasurer, respectively, by acclamation. Stewart Krohn, Oscar Gutierrez, and Nick Scavonne retained their positions as President, 2nd Vice President, and Secretary, respectively.


The well-attended AGM provided an opportunity for attendees to win fabulous prizes, fostering a sense of community and appreciation. The BTIA expressed gratitude to all participants and sponsors, recognizing their contributions to the meeting’s resounding success. The event not only showcased the industry’s accomplishments but also emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts for sustainable tourism growth in Belize.


TOURISM MEANS BUSINESS. That’s the theme of BTIA’s latest campaign to increase public awareness of the importance of our industry to the nation’s overall financial health.

Why do we need a publicity campaign when everyone knows that tourism is responsible for at least 40% of Belize’s Gross Domestic Product and the majority of our foreign exchange earnings? Apparently, while the numbers are often repeated on the rostrum and in the media, many, if not most Belizeans, do not realize on a personal level just how broadly and deeply tourism affects almost every aspect of Belize’s growing economy: agriculture, industry, services and the merchant trades. No, tourism is not just foreigners lying on a beach.

It dawned on me one day while passing by the loading dock at my resort’s storeroom. A truck from one of our poultry suppliers was disgorging crate after crate of eggs. It was high season and the hotel was full – as was the staff dining room – but even so I never realized just how many eggs were consumed each day by our guests and employees… and this was just one resort among hundreds throughout the country!

That got me thinking about other food products like meat, fish, poultry, rice, beans, fruits and vegetables… which led to furniture, fuel, vehicles, electricity, water, office supplies, souvenirs… and don’t forget beer and rum.

You get the picture. Tourism means not only business but BIG business, for companies and individuals in every corner of the country. So while it is fine to focus on those all-important statistics like visitor arrivals, length of stay and average daily rate we should not lose sight of what tourism means to everyday Belizeans and how all of us in the industry can seek to deepen our business connections to the local productive sector and make sure that as Belizean tourism grows so too does its impact on the country as a whole.

Watch out for our TV ads and billboards featuring eggs, bacon and watermelon and spread the word to friends, family and business associates about how profoundly tourism affects us all.



The BTIA Caye Caulker Chapter recently convened its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Membership Mixer on January 9th at the esteemed Wine Yard and Bistro. This gathering drew a substantial attendance, indicative of the community’s active engagement in the tourism sector.

During the event, the Caye Caulker BTIA took the opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of 2023, highlighting successful programs and initiatives. Additionally, attendees were treated to an exclusive preview of what lies ahead in 2024, providing an exciting glimpse into the future endeavors of the organization.

One of the key highlights of the AGM was the election of the 2024 Board of Directors, a group of individuals dedicated to steering the Caye Caulker BTIA towards continued success. The newly elected board comprises: Buddy Magana, who will serve a second term as Chairperson; Dianira Enriquez as Vice Chairperson; Stacy Badillo handling the responsibilities of Treasurer; Akheil Badillo, appointed as Secretary; Celina Jimenez Fuentes and Lidy Pineda, both serving as Directors; and Maria Vega, bringing her expertise to the position of Immediate Past President. The diversity and expertise of the board members ensure a comprehensive approach to addressing the challenges and opportunities within the dynamic and growing tourism industry in Belize.

As the BTIA Caye Caulker Chapter embarks on this new chapter with its freshly elected board, there’s a collective anticipation for a year marked by innovation, resilience, and positive contributions to the broader tourism community.


The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the BTIA Toledo Chapter took place on Wednesday, December 13th, at 10 am in the BTIA Toledo office on Front Street. We extend our sincere appreciation to the dedicated 2023 board members, whose exceptional efforts have worked wonders in revitalizing and steering the BTIA Toledo Chapter towards a positive and well-structured future.

Special thanks go to Mr. Stewart Krohn, BTIA’s President, for providing a comprehensive national overview and sharing strategic objectives. The insights provided by Mr. Krohn have been invaluable in shaping the direction of the chapter.

The election for the new board members for 2024 concluded successfully, and we are excited to introduce the dynamic team that will lead the Toledo Chapter in 2024.

Chairman: Dennis Garbutt

Treasurer: Lisa Avila

Secretary: Allison Gonzalez

COUNCILLOR (Media, Marketing & Public Relations): Joanna Audinett


COUNCILLOR: Nicanor Requena

COUNCILLOR: Victor Jacobs

COUNCILLOR: Jesica Tulcey

We are confident that this dynamic team will bring fresh perspectives, enthusiasm, and expertise to the chapter, making 2024 a year filled with progress and success. Exciting times lie ahead for the BTIA Toledo Chapter, and we look forward to achieving great milestones together!


On Friday, January 19th, 2024, the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) was pleased to attend the inauguration and ribbon-cutting ceremony of Fort George Artisan Alley. This collaborative endeavor, orchestrated by the Belize City Council and the Belize Tourism Board, stands as a significant milestone within the framework of the Sustainable Tourism Project. The initiative underscores a commitment to responsible tourism practices and meaningful community engagement.

Hon. Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, shared insights into the project’s alignment with tourism goals. Hon. Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform, and Religious Affairs, underscored the broader impact on community development. His Worship, Mayor Bernard Wagner, highlighted the significance of Fort George Artisan Alley within the cityscape. Mr. Evan Tillett, Director of Tourism, added his perspective on the project’s contributions to Belize’s tourism landscape.

The Fort George Artisan Alley serves a multifaceted purpose, offering a pristine, secure, and inviting space not only for its 18 resident artisans but also for the numerous visitors and patrons it aims to attract.


On the evening of December 16th, 2023, the Placencia BTIA hosted its highly anticipated Mistletoe Ball, an event that undoubtedly set the stage for the forthcoming bustling tourist season. With over 500 enthusiastic attendees, the night was ablaze with good cheer, exquisite dining, and lively dancing, making it an unforgettable celebration.


The Mistletoe Ball has become the hallmark event signaling the commencement of the vibrant tourist season, providing everyone with an opportunity to showcase their finest attire. This year, attendees went above and beyond, adorning themselves in truly exquisite fashion that added an extra layer of glamour to the already festive atmosphere.


Heartfelt gratitude is extended to the gracious host, Umaya Resort, whose hospitality undoubtedly contributed to the evening’s success. Additionally, gratitude is extended to the numerous sponsors who played a crucial role in supporting and enhancing this joyous occasion.


The Placencia BTIA Mistletoe Ball was more than just a social gathering; it was a testament to the community’s spirit and a remarkable start to what promises to be an exciting tourist season.


The BTIA Dangriga Seafood Festival and Garifuna Settlement Day Expo, organized by BTIA Dangriga in collaboration with the National Garifuna Council (NGC) Dangriga Branch, was held on November 19, 2023. This event not only met its objective of re-establishing BTIA’s name and presence within the community but also showcased the resilience of the Dangriga Chapter after a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


As the first community event held since the pandemic, the collaboration with the NGC Dangriga Branch played a pivotal role in the successful re-launch of the festival. The festivities provided a much-needed platform for clean, family-friendly activities and entertainment, allowing the community to come together and celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day.


The official Garifuna Settlement Day ceremony was followed by the opening of food and exhibit booths until approximately 8:00 PM. The Garifuna Settlement Day Parade, a major highlight for both residents and visitors, culminated at the Alejo Beni Park, thanks to the strategic partnership with the NGC Dangriga Branch. This collaboration not only enhanced the event’s appeal but also attracted a diverse crowd of visitors.


Attendees at the Alejo Beni Park were treated to a rich cultural experience, featuring entertainment by the Wageirale Drummers, Habayan Uwarani Children’s Group, and the Honduran Dance group. Beyond the traditional festivities, a cassava baking demonstration added a flavorful dimension to the event, showcasing the region’s culinary heritage.


BTIA Dangriga extends its sincere gratitude to all sponsors, vendors, and visitors whose support contributed to the event’s success. BTIA Dangriga eagerly anticipates making the Seafood Festival and Garifuna Settlement Day Expo even bigger and better in 2024.


The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) Corozal
Chapter has over the past years placed greater focus on developing the Corozal District
as a viable tourism destination. One of the main elements that the organization believes
will aid in identifying the district from others is its cultural diversity as a pillar to its
sustainable tourism development.

The annual Maya Reenactment Wedding which is held at the Santa Rita Archeological
Site, features the illumination of the Mayan Temple, accompanied by synchronized
dancing which helps to depict the various stages of the cultural history which formed what
is known today in the northern region as the Mestizo Culture. According to one of many
interpretations of history, in the year 1511, during the voyage of Spanish conquistador,
Gonzalo Guerrero to the new world, his ship suffered a wreckage on the coastline of the
then known Chactemal region. Chactemal in one translation of the Maya language means
the place where red trees grow. This was an area which in the Preclassic Maya Period
encompassed the Corozal District all the way up to present day Calderitas in Quintana
Roo, Mexico.

As written in diverse views of history, Gonzalo Guerrero was faced with great challenges
as there was an ongoing war between the Maya and the Spanish conquistadores.
Nonetheless, after the wreckage and being captured by the Maya, Guerrero quickly
developed an appreciation for the Maya people and slowly aligned his loyalty to their
cause. He fought for the Maya in the war and slowly gained the respect of the then Maya
ruler Nachankan. While there are many versions of history, for this event, we wish to focus
not on the tragedy that was imposed on the indigenous by the colonizers, but at the
product that today the Mestizo represent a proud mix of ALL of our ancestry. We must
not forget that the MAYA lineage is paramount to the Mestizo identity and the colonizers
are not excused in any way from their impact on the world. In fact, the colonizers will
always have the atrocious past of invasion and plunder attached to their lineage.

As will be depicted at the Maya Reenactment Wedding on February 24th, the marriage
between the Mayan Princess of Zazhil Ha and Gonzalo Guerrero and the birth of their
three children is just one of the many versions of past events we have chosen, to
commemorate the birth and recognition of the lineage of the Maya and Mestizo Culture.
It is not our intention to uplift the damage that colonizers caused to the identity of many,
but to take from something horrible and still see the goodness that can come from tragedy.
We cannot erase the past and we are not here to argue against other versions. Our event
is intended to highlight and appreciate the beauty, power and grace of the Maya Mestizo
People – a people whose complex history taught them to be STRONG.

The Maya Reenactment Wedding is a signature event for BTIA Corozal Chapter and one
which has been developed in partnership with the Corozal Town Council, NICH and the
BTB. It aims to highlight the local culture in Corozal further showcasing the touristic
attributes the district has to offer. The event will be celebrated on February 24th
, 2024.