ISSUE NO. 5
– President Stewart Krohn
There is no shortage of good news in the tourism industry and I’d like to share some of it with our BTIA members.
–Visitor arrivals are gradually returning to 2019 levels and individual visitor spending has increased significantly over pre-pandemic levels. Part of the reason is the much discussed “pent up demand for travel” as well as the general increase in upscale accommodations and more exotic activities. This means that even with fewer tourists more money is being spent on hotels, restaurants and tours. Banks report that businesses that were forced to borrow funds to get through the pandemic are by and large repaying those loans and some are expanding operations.
–Even better news is that the U.S. government has ended the requirement that all people flying to the States must show a negative Covid-19 test. This relieves each visitor to Belize—and any other country—of having to spend the US$65-75 for a test as well as the fear of testing positive and having to spend up to ten more days of quarantine away from home. While this newfound pricing does not give us an edge over our tropical competitors (all of whom, except Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were subject to the same requirement) it does make international travel much cheaper for Americans and should spur more travel abroad for U.S. residents, especially as high gas prices make domestic travel more expensive. Hopefully the move will give us a summer boost and may be felt as early as the July 4 holiday weekend.
–It may not qualify as breaking news but I would like to congratulate our team that put together the recent Summit: Reimagining Belizean Tourism. Aside from providing stimulating and thoughtful presentations it marked the beginning of what will be a fruitful collaboration with the University of Belize to enhance tourism research and training. Thanks also to MarFund and other sponsors for their crucial support.
–And a final word on Covid-19. As the latest statistics show, we are in the midst of yet another major spike. Fortunately the particular Omicron variant affecting us is more transmissible than lethal and it appears that as long as a new deadly variant does not appear we will deal with Covid as just another flu. But please: get vaccinated and boosted and keep our employees and guests as healthy as possible.
IN THE HEADLINES
BTIA HOSTS A VERY SUCCESSFUL TOURISM SUMMIT
On Thursday May 26, BTIA hosted the “Reimagining Belizean Tourism” summit. This was done in partnership with the University of Belize and with support from MarFund. The goal of the summit was to bring together stakeholders to discuss issues relevant to the future of Belize’s tourism and was presented in five panels, as follows:
1. Preparing for Climate Change: Is Beach tourism an Endangered Species?
2. Belize City Cruise Ports: How Many are Too Many?
3. Branding Belizean Tourism for Resilience
4. Airport and Land Borders: Short and Long Term Solutions
5. Looking Ahead: What is the Goal and How Do We Get There?
The summit provided an opportunity to gather data and industry positions that will contribute to the revision of the National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan. It was an ideal forum to gather information and refine the industry positions and best practices relating to the main facets of Belize’s tourism product, engage industry partners, and facilitate networking opportunities.
The tourism summit was very well attended by a wide cross-section of stakeholders who provided positive feedback on the topics, individual presentations and the overall execution of the event.
Photos of the event can be found HERE.
BTIA HOLDS MEMBERSHIP MIXER IN ORANGE WALK TOWN AND HOPKINS VILLAGE
On Wednesday, June 15, BTIA Orange Walk held a membership mixer at the Nahil Mayab Restaurant and Patio. The mixer had the attendance of Vice President Osmany Salas, Executive Director Linette Canto, the Orange Walk Board of Directors, BTIA members and other tourism stakeholders. Several important topics were discussed, including the achievements of BTIA over the past few months, the progress that BTIA is making on a local and national level and how members can make a difference. This past Saturday, June 18, BTIA Hopkins also brought stakeholders together at the Lodge at Jaguar Reef for a mixer. We are pleased to announce that Hopkins has a new Chapter Board, which is being led by Chairman Ian Lizarraga, with support from Rob Pronk and Damian Greico. BTIA thanks everyone who attended the mixers. We look forward to carrying out many exciting events and activities as we continue to work for the benefit and sustainable development of the tourism industry.
CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL OF BELIZE 2022
The Chocolate Festival of Belize was held in May and featured two main events: the signature Wine and Chocolate Gala and the Taste of Toledo Street fair. The Wine and Chocolate Gala took place on Friday, May 20 at the Punta Gorda Welcome Plaza and provided guests with the opportunity to sample an assortment of Belizean chocolates and enjoy food, drinks and entertainment. The gala was well executed and, from the smiles on the faces of the attendees, it was a very enjoyable event.
The Taste of Toledo Street Fair was also held at the Punta Gorda Welcome Plaza on Saturday May 21. Visitors enjoyed chocolate products, crafts from local artisans, local delicacies and a variety of cultural presentations.
Congratulations to BTIA Toledo for organizing this event and thank you to all sponsors and supporters that contributed to its success.
CAYE CAULKER BTIA CONGRATULATES ITS FIRST WOODWORK ART CLASS
In May, a Certificate Ceremony was held for the six participants who completed CCBTIA’s first ever Woodwork Art Class. Championing the initiative was Ms. Candice Wade, a new BTIA member, who was the coordinator.
The trainers were:
- Mr. Ed Barton who has a keen interest in passing on the skills of his hobby;
- Marcial Alamina III, long-standing BTIA member and village mentor who is a much-accomplished lifetime master carpenter in Belizean fine woods and a jeweler in precious metals and stones;
- Allie Johnstone, BTIA member and talented artist who contributed the lettering on the wooden certificates specially crafted for the class; and,
- Final finishes on the certificates were recommended by Mr. Buddy Magaña Sr.
Under the auspices of the CCBTIA, Ms. Wade and five other participants who are all residents of Caye Caulker, were welcomed to Mr. Barton’s workshop where for two full days they got guidance and hands-on training in the use of woods, designs, and a variety of tools including bandsaw, lathe, and sander. With the combination of natural talent, creativity and a drive to learn, an amazing variety of useful and decorative items were produced by the participants – Candice Wade, Dora Davis, Yvette Usher, Veronica Andrewin, Heidi Garcia and Lincoln Dawson. The next workshop is scheduled for the third week of July 2022 and spaces are already filled. Congratulations to the woodworkers and much appreciation to all those who made it possible.
THE WORLD OCEANS DAY EXPO
BTIA recently participated in the World Oceans Day Expo which was held at the Buttonwood Bay Park in Belize City. The association was represented at this event by Renae Martinez and Abdiel Dominguez.
The objective of the Expo was to highlight local entrepreneurs who work with products from our marine resources to promote alternative livelihoods and sustainability. In addition, various stakeholders who work in the protection, conservation and management of our protected areas and marine environment were on hand to provide information to the public.
BTIA congratulates the Ministry of Blue Economy for introducing the World Oceans Day Expo which was one of several activities held to commemorate the 10,000th birthday of the Belize Barrier Reef.