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. 13



We are thrilled to announce that the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) celebrated its 39th anniversary on April 26th, 2024! As we reflect on nearly four decades of dedication, innovation, and collaboration, we are filled with gratitude for the remarkable journey that has brought us to this milestone.

Since our inception in 1985, BTIA has been steadfast in our commitment to promoting and advancing the tourism industry in Belize. Over the past 39 years, BTIA has achieved numerous accomplishments that have shaped the landscape of Belizean tourism. From spearheading initiatives to protect our natural resources and cultural heritage to promoting responsible tourism development, we have worked tirelessly to ensure that Belize remains a premier destination for travelers from around the world.

We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to our members, partners, and supporters who have been instrumental in our success. You have been the driving force behind our achievements, and we are immensely grateful for your continued support.

We are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for the BTIA. As we navigate the evolving landscape of tourism and face new challenges, we remain committed to our mission of promoting sustainable tourism development, fostering industry growth, and enhancing the visitor experience in Belize.

Once again, thank you for your continued support and dedication to the Belize Tourism Industry Association.

Happy 39th anniversary, BTIA!


Our BTIA has a long and complicated relationship with cruise tourism. As an umbrella organization BTIA has always included the cruise sector both at the board of directors level and in our general membership. But since the bulk of tourism employment, investment, revenue and profit is overwhelmingly concentrated in the overnight sector we have focused our efforts on the growth and sustainable management of overnight tourism. In some cases BTIA has actually fought against specific cruise port projects where we believed such developments were not in the best interests of the industry or the nation in general.

Today the situation in the cruise industry is more confused than ever with the Port Magical project south of Belize City mired in bipartisan scandal, the Port of Belize project seeming to rise from the dead now that Government re-purchased the operation and Stake Bank (aka Port Coral), first out of the gate, three-quarters built and out of cash, thrown into receivership amid allegations of fraud, incompetence and questionable banking practices.

What are we to do?

My first reaction, as someone historically opposed to cruise tourism in Belize, is to rub my hands in delight as I watch the future of this less-than-vital segment of our industry drown before our eyes in a sea of greed, indecision and failed policies.

But that would be irresponsible. The fact is that cruise tourism can be a viable part of our tourism product particularly for Belize City and surrounding areas traditionally left out of the overnight tourism loop. The question is and always has been: What do we want cruise tourism to look like, today, tomorrow and 20 years from now?

The answer certainly does not lie in numbers. Government’s cruise tourism plan calls for an increase in annual cruise visitor arrivals from the present one million to 2.5 million over the next ten years, an increase of 150%. At the same time we are promoting Belize as the ultimate green destination, a bastion of environmental stewardship and beacon of sustainability. The fact is we can’t have it both ways.

Common sense tells us that if we are going to have a cruise product it should be complementary to the much larger overnight sector: small, unique, interesting, authentic. What does that look like? For my money it looks like Stake Bank—a modest but well done facility offshore from Belize City that will eventually handle perhaps under a million annual visitors (along with a half million at Harvest Caye in the South) and give them a reasonable introduction to the wonders of Belize without destroying them.

Depending on whom you ask over a hundred million US dollars has already been poured into that unfortunate island that has had more cosmetic surgery than all the Real Housewives of Atlanta combined. The project needs to be completed–and fast. A buyer or buyers need to be found before the existing infrastructure begins to deteriorate—even if the lenders take a huge haircut. If this project is not saved the real loser will be Belize and the only winners will be the lawyers.


CATM 2024

Since January 2024, FEDECATUR and the BTIA worked together to ensure a strong Belize presence at CATM 2024 which was held at the Hilton San Salvador from April 14 to 19. The event attracted over eighty travel wholesalers and international press delegates. On April 14, the main event commenced with a networking session aimed at fostering intra-regional business relationships. The goal was to foster collaboration among key tourism professionals in Central America, aiming to develop intra-regional packages that would strengthen tourism.

Belize was represented by seven hotels and tour operators in addition to the Belize Tourism Board and the Belize Tourism Industry Association. These entities effectively built alliances with operators from across the region to expand their market reach.

The remaining two days of the event were dedicated to B2B meetings with key international wholesalers and press attendees. Preliminary feedback indicates satisfaction among participating properties, with over 80 percent of the meetings reported as successful.

All international delegates embarked on post-tours across Central America. Belize hosted six wholesalers and two members of the international press from Spain, who explored attractions in the Placencia Peninsula, San Ignacio, and Caye Caulker. These trips were organized to facilitate site visits for all participating hotels.


We are excited to announce an upcoming event that promises to be both informative and inspiring: the BTIA-Galen University Tourism Forum, taking place at the Galen University campus in the Cayo District on May 24th, 2024. This collaborative effort between the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) and Galen University aims to bring together industry professionals, educators, and community members for a dynamic discussion on tourism development and opportunities in Belize.

In addition to the engaging presentations and discussions, the forum will also serve as an invitation to join the newly integrated BTIA Cayo Chapter, which will encompass both Belmopan and Cayo.

To conclude the evening on a celebratory note, we invite all attendees to join us for a networking cocktail, where you can connect with fellow industry professionals, exchange ideas, and forge new partnerships.

We are eagerly looking forward to this event and the opportunity to come together as a community to explore ways to further enhance and promote tourism in the Cayo District and beyond. Mark your calendars and make plans to join us for what promises to be an enlightening and impactful forum!


Get ready to indulge in a celebration like no other as the Chocolate Festival of Belize returns for its sixteenth year! Set against the backdrop of the stunning Toledo District, this festival is a tribute to the rich heritage of cacao and the vibrant culture of Belize. Organized by the Belize Tourism Industry Association’s (BTIA) Toledo Chapter, in collaboration with the Chocolate Festival of Belize Committee and local cacao communities, this event promises to be a delectable experience for all.

Cruiser Chocolate Month Kick-off Event (May 4th)

Embark on a delicious journey aboard the Chocolate Cruiser as we kick off Chocolate Month in style. Indulge in chocolate-inspired delights while cruising through the picturesque landscapes of Toledo. Tickets are priced at BZ$75 per person.

Chocolate Gala Signature Event (May 17th)

Prepare for an evening of elegance and indulgence at the Chocolate Gala Signature Event, hosted at the luxurious Copal Tree Lodge. Enjoy gourmet chocolate creations, live entertainment, and dancing under the stars. Tickets are available for BZ$75 per person.

Celebrate Chocolate Market Event (May 18th)

Explore a vibrant market featuring local artisans, chocolatiers, and culinary delights. Indulge in chocolate treats, live music, and family-friendly activities from 4:00pm to 10:00pm. There is no entrance fee for this event.

Cacao Cup Football Event (May 19th)

Experience the thrill of the Cacao Cup Football Event in Big Falls Village, presented in collaboration with Maya Mountain Cacao Ltd. Cheer on local teams as they compete in a spirited tournament. Admission is free for all from 9:00am to 8:00pm.

The Chocolate Festival of Belize is not just about indulging in sweet treats—it’s also about supporting the Toledo District and its tourism initiatives. Through events like the PEINI Night Markets, cultural performances, educational outreach programs, and marketing efforts, BTIA Toledo aims to boost the local economy, preserve cultural heritage, and promote sustainable tourism practices.

Don’t miss out on this celebration of community, culture, and cacao! Purchase your tickets online at www.chocolatefestivalbelize.com or contact BTIA Toledo at 614-7299. For more information, visit our website, follow us on Facebook at BelizeChocolateFestival, or email us at [email protected].


The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) is excited to announce our participation in Love FM’s upcoming Mother’s Day Special.

Love FM has graciously invited BTIA to contribute to their special Mother’s Day segment, which will air on Friday, May 10th. Several of our members have generously agreed to provide packages for giveaways during the half-hour BTIA segment. These giveaways will include a range of prizes such as dinners at local restaurants, hotel stays, and more.

The BTIA segment will also highlight the important work that our organization has been doing to drive the tourism industry forward in Belize. From advocating for sustainable tourism practices to promoting community engagement and development, BTIA is dedicated to ensuring that Belize remains a premier destination for travelers from around the world.

During the segment, sponsors will be recognized and celebrated for their contributions to the event. This is an excellent opportunity for businesses to gain exposure while supporting a meaningful cause.

Thank you to Love FM for inviting us to be a part of this special event and thank you to our members and sponsors for their generous support.


Join us on June 8th at the much-anticipated Mango Street Festival, proudly presented by the Belize Tourism Industry Association’s (BTIA) Hopkins Chapter. Nestled along the stunning coastline of southern Belize, Hopkins is renowned for its warm hospitality, rich cultural heritage, and natural beauty.

As one of Belize’s most beloved fruits, mangoes hold a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike. At the festival, attendees will have the opportunity to savor the succulent flavors of this tropical delight in a variety of culinary creations, from refreshing mango smoothies and cocktails to mouthwatering mango-infused desserts and savory dishes.

In addition to the culinary delights and cultural entertainment, the Mango Festival will also include a marketplace where local artisans and vendors will showcase their handmade crafts, artwork, and souvenirs. Throughout the event, visitors will be treated to live musical performances featuring traditional Garifuna drumming and dance. Entertainment will include performances by talented artists such as Sweet Pain, C Wills, Lloyd Augustine, MAC 90 Sounds, and many others.

The Mango Festival is a testament to BTIA’s commitment to showcasing the unique cultural and culinary experiences that Belize has to offer. By bringing together local communities, businesses, and visitors, the festival fosters a sense of unity and pride while providing a platform to celebrate Belize’s diverse heritage and natural wonders.

Mark your calendars and make plans to attend the Mango Festival in Hopkins—an unforgettable celebration of mangoes, music, and the magic of Belize. We look forward to welcoming you to this extraordinary event!


The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) recently demonstrated our commitment to environmental sustainability by participating in a collaborative workshop aimed at strengthening Belize’s Returnable Containers Act. Represented by President Stewart Krohn and BTIA Caye Caulker board member Maria Vega, the association joined forces with other stakeholders to address the pressing issue of plastic pollution in Central America and the Caribbean.

This collaborative effort is part of the Circular Caribbean Project, an initiative funded by the European Union and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Germany. The project aims to tackle plastic pollution and its significant implications for marine life and ecosystems in the region.

The workshop, which was hosted at the Golden Bay Hotel in Belize City in March, focused on enhancing the Returnable Containers Act as a crucial step towards reducing plastic waste and promoting sustainable practices. Through consultations and engagements with both public and private sectors, the project aims to strengthen existing regulations and foster a culture of responsible waste management.

BTIA’s participation in this important initiative underscores our commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable tourism practices. By collaborating with stakeholders and advocating for policy changes, the association plays a vital role in protecting Belize’s natural resources and preserving its pristine beauty for future generations.


In early April, the University of Belize’s NGO Management class attended an informative guest lecture by the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) which focused on the organization’s roles, functions, and operations. This collaboration between academia and industry proved to be an invaluable experience for the students, providing them with a firsthand glimpse into the complexities of managing an NGO.

Under the guidance of Linette Canto, BTIA’s Executive Director, the presentation offered students a deeper understanding of how theoretical knowledge translates into practical applications. The session, which included discussing the intricacies of NGO management and exploring tourism’s pivotal role within BTIA’s operations, was well-received. The students welcomed the opportunity to learn from someone immersed in the field and the thoughtful questions posed by the students at the end of the presentation underscored their eagerness to learn and apply newfound knowledge.

BTIA is honored to have contributed to the academic journey of these students and believes in the importance of such engagements in shaping future leaders. The association remains committed to supporting educational initiatives and fostering a culture of learning within Belize. As BTIA looks forward to future opportunities to collaborate with educational institutions, it reaffirms our belief that education is indeed the key to a successful future.


Representatives from several chapters of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) were present at the Belize Tourism Board’s (BTB) BOOM Forum, held on April 11, 2024, at the Best Western Plus Belize Biltmore Plaza. The 3rd annual B.O.O.M. Forum (Building On Our Momentum) was a signature event that brought together key stakeholders in the tourism industry.

The forum featured presentations by the BTB on industry developments, providing valuable insights into the current state of tourism in Belize. Additionally, the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance shed light on the opportunities for Belize as a member of the Alliance and the host of the upcoming World Sustainable Travel and Hospitality Awards. The Ministry of Tourism also shared updates on the National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan, highlighting the country’s commitment to sustainable tourism practices.

BTB’s PR agencies, including TM Americas, Development Counselors International (DCI), and The Zimmerman Agency, provided market updates and outlined their plans to continue promoting Belize as a top travel destination. Their presentations offered valuable strategies and initiatives aimed at enhancing Belize’s visibility and appeal in the global tourism market.

Attendees at the BOOM Forum included hoteliers, tour operators, and representatives from various industry partner sectors from across Belize. The diverse participation underscored the collaborative effort needed to drive Belize’s tourism industry forward and capitalize on its momentum.

BTIA’s presence at the forum exemplifies its dedication to advocating for the interests of its members and contributing to the development of Belize’s tourism sector.