Dear BTIA Members and Supporters:
I am happy to report that most indicators point to a full recovery for the overnight sector of Belize’s tourism industry for the 2022/23 winter season. The rebound is in line with the general trend in the Caribbean and has been significantly more robust than was predicted when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its height.
While the recovery is great news there are still a few question marks clouding the future.
The first involves airlift. While much work has been done on attracting new airline service to Belize we are still lacking bankable commitments on a direct flight from Europe, major service from Mexico and a reliable connection to South America. There has also been some erosion of existing service with Frontier pulling out of its weekly flights and Southwest failing to restore the Ft. Lauderdale route. Yes, Southwest is picking up some slack out of Denver and Alaska is holding its own from Seattle and L.A. but we are not seeing a lot of enthusiasm on the part of the airlines for pioneering new connections.
Note this is not because of anything that Belize has or has not done; it is largely a product of the severe dysfunction of the global airline industry following the pandemic that has resulted in shortages of pilots, flight attendants and ground crews. One result is that with fewer flights and more passengers crammed onto each flight the airlines will be able to charge higher than normal prices. This is not just a Belize phenomenon so our competitive situation may not be affected, but it may suppress arrivals of some of our more budget-minded visitors.
The other question mark involves the future of the Belize brand. Specifically, with the possibility of three major cruise ports in the Belize District and the resulting onslaught of low value visitors to our shores can Belize retain its unique selling proposition as a truly authentic nature-based destination? The Belize Government and Tourism Ministry have been wishy-washy at best on the subject and seem to be hoping that the situation will resolve itself.
And to be fair, we at BTIA have not been much better. Personally my attitude toward the cruise industry is well known from previous battles dating back over a decade. My primary beef is not environmental—although the environmental case is a strong one—but is based more on economics: that the cruise lines are ruthless business people, corruptors of all they touch, who leave nothing but chump change in the pockets of Belize and Belizeans.
But mine is just one voice and as an umbrella organization that represents hundreds of hotels, restaurants, tour operators, tour guides and related businesses, BTIA must hear from all parts of our membership. Coming to consensus may not be easy—or even possible– but we have a duty to our industry and country to use our collective wisdom to weigh in on this crucial issue. Over the next several weeks I will be reaching out to our leading minds for guidance and would like to hear from anyone in our industry who cares to weigh in. Feel free to contact me at [email protected] to get the conversation going.
IN THE HEADLINES
“RAISING THE BAR ON BELIZEAN CUISINE”
BTIA is diligently preparing for our highly anticipated culinary training in early November, which is guaranteed to take local cuisine to the next level. Celebrated Chef, Sean Kuylen and well-known Belizean food scholar, Dr. Lyra Spang will be leading a two-day course for chefs and sous-chefs in Hopkins, San Ignacio and San Pedro.
The interactive training will involve both classroom instruction and hands-on cooking and the focus will be on discovering and sourcing local ingredients while developing innovative, Belizean-infused recipes.
The participating chefs will be inspired to take the sound tradition of Belize’s multi-ethnic cuisine and explore ways to enhance that dining experience at our stand-alone restaurants and resort dining rooms.
The training sessions will be held at the Lodge at Jaguar Reef in Hopkins on November 1 and 2 and at Cahal Pech Village Resort in San Ignacio on November 4 and 5. In San Pedro, the theoretical sessions will be held at Sun Breeze Hotel while the practical sessions will be held at Hidden Treasure Restaurant and Lounge. The training will culminate with a demonstration dinner at the three venues on night two. This is an ideal opportunity for residents in these areas to support the chefs while enjoying a delicious 5-course dinner that they will prepare to showcase their skill and creativity.
According to Dr. Spang she is excited about the training, “This training comes at an ideal time as culinary tourism is the fastest growing segment of the international tourism industry. Sean and I both have the same mission, which is to elevate Belizean cuisine and make Belize a culinary destination.”
Chey Kuylen, who shares Dr. Spang’s enthusiasm, stated, “Visitors to Belize want to enjoy authentic, Belizean cuisine. This training is aimed at inspiring the chefs to be more creative when it comes to preparing their meals so that they will leave a lasting impression on their guests.”
The fees for the two-day course are $300 per person for BTIA members and $400 for non-members. Non-members who wish to join BTIA for 2023 will receive the member’s rate. To make it easier for interested chefs to attend, those who do not reside in the three destinations can take advantage of concessionary room rates which will be announced closer to the event dates.
Space is limited to 30 students for each of the three events with a maximum of two attendees for any one property. Employers, this is an excellent way to let your chefs know that after two years of the covid pandemic you care about their professional development. We encourage you to sign up now as this is one opportunity you do not want to miss!
BTIA TOLEDO HOLDS ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
On Friday, September 23, 2022, BTIA’s Toledo Chapter held its Annual General Meeting.
The meeting, which was held virtually, was well attended and culminated in the election of the new board of directors for the Toledo Chapter.
The list of new board members and their positions is as follows:
Dennis Garbutt, Chairperson
Bruno Kuppinger, Vice Chairperson
Allison Gonzalez, Secretary
Radiance Jacobs, Treasurer
Oliver Garay, Technical Consultant
Charmagne Westby-Ramirez, Head of Calendar of Events
Jo Audinett, Head of Public Relations/Social Media
The new Chairperson, Mr. Dennis Garbutt, has pledged to work hard and smart for the benefit of Toledo’s tourism development. On accepting his newly elected position he stated that working together as a team will be paramount to the board’s success. His goal is to have active committees in place that are energized and ready to work.
The Toledo district is overflowing with natural attractions, culture, and charm; therefore, with this strong and dedicated team in place we anticipate that there will be many exciting developments coming out of the Toledo Chapter.
Congratulations to entire Toledo team.
CAYE CAULKER BTIA IS OFFERING FREE TRAINING COURSES TO BTIA MEMBERS
Earlier this year, Caye Caulker BTIA successfully applied for a Matching Grant from the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) to be used in “Capacity Building for Strengthening BTIA’s National Training Efforts.”
As a result, the following series of trainings will be available in October and November:
- First Aid and CPR
- First Aid, CPR, AED and Water Rescue
- Media and Marketing
- Bokashi Composting
- Circular Cleaning and Gardening
- Sustainability and Climate Change
- Quick Books (Levels 1 and 2)
- Project Management Skills
- Water Quality Testing
These trainings are free of cost to BTIA staff, BTIA members and active volunteers. Every BTIA member is eligible to send one person to each of the training sessions.
We express thanks to Caye Caulker BTIA and the BTB and we encourage our members countrywide to take advantage of this exciting opportunity.
For detailed information please contact Caya Caulker BTIA via email at [email protected] or call 672-3869.
BTIA IS REPRESENTED ON THE MSP STEERING COMMITTEE
As a part of its mandate, BTIA is committed to advocating for the sustainable development of the tourism industry. With that in mind, Executive Director, Linette Canto was pleased to participate in the Marine Spatial Planning Process (MSP). MSP is a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas. The overarching principles, once defined, will guide decision-making, establish how the process will be conducted and how stakeholders will be engaged.
The MSP process and resulting plan will address the social, cultural, and economic needs of all stakeholders including those in tourism sector. Efforts will be made to include minority, marginalized and under-represented groups and ensure that the process is inclusive and transparent
On September 28 and 29 a steering committee workshop was held at the Black Orchid Resort in Burrell Boom Village during which the participants, including BTIA’s Executive Director, completed work on the vision, goals and objectives of the Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Process. The workshop, which was led by facilitator Mary Vasquez, was informative and very interactive and the committee was satisfied that the overall objectives of the sessions were met.
The development of a legally enforceable Marine Spatial Plan is one of Belize’s principal commitments under the Blue Bond Loan Agreement and the Conservation Funding Agreement with The Nature Conservancy. These agreements specify the terms of the US$364 million debt conversion for marine conservation, which was signed in November 2021.
UNWTO RELEASES JANUARY- JULY 2022 INTERNATIONAL TOURISM STATISTICS
The most recent issue of the World Tourism Barometer released by UNWTO in September highlights several key findings, which include the following:
- International tourism continued to show strong performance through July 2022. International tourist arrivals almost tripled in January-July 2022 compared to the same period of 2021.
- In the month of July arrivals came close to pre-pandemic levels in the Caribbean (-5%), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (-6%) and Central America (-8%).
- The steady recovery reflects strong pent-up demand for international travel, especially in the months of June and July which are part of the Northern Hemisphere summer season. The easing or lifting of travel restrictions in an increasing number of countries also contributed to boost results.
- The challenging economic environment including high inflation and the spike in oil prices, aggravated by the war in Ukraine, continues to be the main factor weighing on the recovery of tourism, according to experts.
- Experts are confident about 2023, with 65% foreseeing better tourism performance than in 2022.
The Week, a popular UK online magazine which focuses on international news and commentary, has featured Belize in their current trip of the week segment.
THE BIG TRIP
Trip of the week: reef, rainforest and ancient ruins in Belize
Belize is home to the world’s second-largest barrier reef and an array of cultural treasures
Wedged between Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean, Belize is home to an array of natural habitats, including the world’s second-largest barrier reef. And it has no shortage of cultural treasures either, said Amelia Duggan in National Geographic Traveller, including two spectacular Mayan sites.
Click the link to read the full article: