ISSUE NO. 4
– President Stewart Krohn
Dear BTIA Members:
Our experience with the concept of human nature tells us that as a species we tend to have short memories. Case in point: for at least a year-and-a half our industry suffered the most devastating blow in its history. Today, barely two years from the shutdown of our borders, massive layoffs and millions of dollars in losses, the buzz among tourism stakeholders is how strong the recent recovery has been and what new investments we will be making in the future.
What a difference a few months make!
And what better time to meet and share what we’ve learned and figure out where we are going? What I’m talking about is BTIA’s upcoming Tourism Summit: Reimagining Belizean Tourism. On May 26 all BTIA members and tourism stakeholders are invited to come to the Biltmore in Belize City for an opportunity to get reacquainted with each other– in three dimensions instead of two – and tackle some of the issues that we may have lost track of during the pandemic.
The summit is being coordinated by the BTIA in partnership with the University of Belize and with support from MAR Fund. The keynote speaker will be Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, former head of the Caribbean Tourism Organization and former Bahamas Minister of Tourism. There are few people in the world more knowledgeable about our region’s biggest industry. There will be five panels on the agenda:
–Preparing for Climate Change: Is Beach Tourism an Endangered Species?
—Belize City Cruise Ports: How Many is Too Many?
–Branding Belizean Tourism for Resilience
–Airport and Land Borders: Short and Long Term Solutions
–Looking Ahead: What is the Goal and How do We Get There?
In addition to our distinguished keynote speaker we will be joined by Minister of Tourism, Hon. Anthony Mahler and a roster of insightful panelists. There will be ample time for audience Q and A as well opportunities to network with colleagues over lunch and during the post-summit cocktail hour. Attendance is free for BTIA members, $25.00 for non-members and includes buffet lunch. This is an occasion not to be missed so save the date and join us on May 26. There will be more details as the date draws closer.
I recently had the honor to be one of the presenters at the 2nd Biennial Conference of the Belize Marine Fund. I have also been actively involved in the planning of BTIA’s upcoming tourism summit: “Reimagining Belizean Tourism”. The commonality between these two events is the focus on sustainability and our vision for the future of our country. It is imperative that we ask ourselves “What is the goal and how do we get there?”
Did you know that statistics indicate that that international tourist arrivals have increased from only 25 million in 1950 to 1.5 billion at the end of 2019, just before the pandemic hit? It is projected that by 2030, the number will reach 1.8 billion – meaning that 5 million people will cross international borders every day for leisure, business or other purposes, such as visiting friends and family.
The travel industry is growing in leaps and bounds and, as the numbers rise, we must focus on implementing responsible and sustainable tourism practices which include saving energy, decreasing water consumption and reducing waste. This will not only benefit the environment but also positively impact your brand, as travelers want to feel good about their travel choices.
While many travelers like a good deal when it comes to booking travel, a number of them also want the money they spend during their vacation to do some good in the destinations they visit. In a recent survey, Kind Traveler found that:
- 96% of respondents said it’s important that “my travel dollars are making a positive impact in the places I visit.”
- 48% said “my greatest challenge in traveling sustainably is choosing accommodations that are sustainable and socially conscious.”
Surveys such as this one underscore the fact that the hospitality industry needs to focus significantly on sustainability.
Belize is a small country that has been blessed with a rich diversity of ecosystems that significantly enhance the richness of our tourism product. We must protect and preserve our resources and we must each do our part to contribute to a growing and sustainable tourism industry.
IN THE HEADLINES
CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL OF BELIZE 2022
BTIA is pleased to announce that the Chocolate Festival is back. We could not be more excited to see the revival of this remarkable event which had to be put on hold due to the pandemic.
The Chocolate Festival of Belize is traditionally held every May, over the Commonwealth Day weekend, and attracts a wide variety of visitors including international tourists, Belizean Travelers and residents of Toledo and surrounding areas. While the holiday is not on the calendar this year, the Chocolate Festival planning committee decided to stick to the original schedule as it falls really nicely between Easter celebrations and the upcoming lobster festivals.
This year, there will be two main events: the signature Wine and Chocolate and the Taste of Toledo Street fair. If you are a chocolate lover, or you simply enjoy having a good time, mark this one on your calendar.
Wine and Chocolate
The Wine and Chocolate will take place on Friday, 20th May at the Punta Gorda Welcome Plaza starting at 7 pm. This signature event is one of the most eagerly awaited events in Punta Gorda each year and this year won’t disappoint. Toledo is known as the chocolate capital of Belize, and there will be local chocolatiers from throughout the district sharing samples and explaining how they create their sensational products. As usual, a variety of finger food will be available throughout the night, inspired by cacao and prepared by some of Punta Gorda’s best chefs.
For those who haven’t danced in a while, you will have an opportunity to hit the dance floor as there will be a variety of live entertainment to bring the event to life. And there’s more – every ticket purchased gives you the chance to win one of several great door prizes which will be drawn during the event.
Tickets are being sold for only $50 and provides you with three drink tokens, food, free samples, entry to the raffle and entertainment. So if you’re ready to welcome the festival back, or have never been before, it’s time to book your ticket for what promises to be a magical – and long awaited – night!
Taste of Toledo Street Fair:
The Taste of Toledo Street Fair will take place on Saturday, 21st May at the Punta Gorda Welcome Plaza. This is an event for the entire family and there’s no entrance fee to attend. Come out and enjoy music and cultural presentations throughout the day as you browse the chocolate booths for the finest chocolate Toledo has to offer. Visitors will be able to enjoy local delicacies and drinks from a wide variety of vendors and meet local artisans who will proudly display their crafts.
There’s something for everyone to enjoy, so bring your family and friends.
Sponsors are: Atlantic Bank, Travelers, Copalli Rum, Recino’s Imports Ltd and Bowen and Bowen.
MEMBERS OF THE CAYE CAULKER BTIA CHAPTER COMPLETE THE MAR LEADERSHIP PROGRAMME
Three representative of the Caye Caulker BTIA Chapter (CCBTIA) were in in Puerto Morelos, Mexico from 28 April to 1 May, 2022 for the final class of their 2021 MesoAmerican Reef Leadership Programme.
The CCBTIA Team was comprised of Maria Vega, Veronica Young and Buddy Magaña Jr. who were very happy to be meeting their counterparts from Belize, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras after one year of virtual training due to the pandemic restrictions.
The MAR Leadership Programme through a competitive selection process, selects local leaders with innovative ideas. The objectives of the program are to strengthen leadership capabilities to develop innovative projects of high impact; to link high-quality projects with social venture funds; and build a network of leaders, experts, donors and affiliates for the conservation of the Meso American Reef.
In existence since 2010, leaders are trained every year for the best management of the Meso American Reef System which spans four countries – namely, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.
Congratulations to Maria, Veronica and Buddy for this impressive achievement.
SPBTIA TOURISM INFORMATION CENTER IS NOW OPEN!
The San Pedro Belize Tourism Industry Association Chapter (SPBTIA) inaugurated its Tourism Information Center (TIC) on Friday, April 29th. The office is located adjacent to the San Pedro House of Culture.
The information center will provide walk-in visitors with tourism-related information and services offered by SPBTIA members. The center has brochures with information on places of interest on the island and QR Codes with information about SPBTIA stakeholders. Visitors can connect with them for more information using these codes via their smartphones.
The SPBTIA Chairwoman, Tamara Sniffin acknowledged the generosity of Mirna Waight for donating the building on behalf of Sandy Point Realty. The structure was located 3.5 miles north of town and needed to be moved to its new location in town, which was accomplished with the support of Island Construction. Chairwoman Sniffin said that with the help of Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez, permission was granted to place the building next to the House of Culture. The TIC is strategically placed within the Honourable Louis Sylvestre Sporting Complex, the international water terminal and the Artisan Market.
BTIA’s president, Steward Krohn, congratulated the SPBTIA and commended Chairwoman Sniffin for her leadership and her team’s hard work. President Krohn thanked the BTIA membership, the Belize Tourism Board, Atlantic Bank, and MAR Fund for contributing to the national BTIA effort from which the SPBTIA benefits.
The formalities ended with TIC committee member and chapter secretary Janet Brown giving the vote of thanks. Stewart Krohn of BTIA, Angelique Haseley, representing the BTB and Mirna Waight from Sandy Point Realty then joined Tamara Sniffin for the cutting ribbon, declaring the TIC officially open.
Mirna Waight was presented with a tile plaque displaying her name and company as the donor of the building.