ISSUE NO. 8
– President Stewart Krohn
It happens more often that you’d think. I will be introduced to someone as President of the Belize Tourism Industry Association and the first question I’m asked is “just what does BTIA do?” At first I’m taken aback but then realize that it’s a pretty good question. I know that a significant portion of my day is taken up with BTIA matters but have never really stopped to break down exactly what it is that our organization spends its time on. Let me give it a try.
First of all BTIA is not a single monolithic entity. In the first instance it consists of its several hundred members who at the national level elect a six member Executive Committee. That body is joined by the chairperson of each local chapter (around ten in all) and together with the EC form BTIA’s Board of Directors. The EC meets around once a month with the larger board around half that frequency. The day-to-day work of the organization is carried out by our two-person secretariat.
So that’s the structure but we still don’t know what all those people do.
The major activity of BTIA is to advocate for the interests of the tourism industry. This includes hotels, tour operators, tour guides, restaurants, spas, gift shops, car rentals—any activity directly related to tourism and includes both the overnight and cruise sectors.
This advocacy takes many forms. The most obvious example was during the Covid-19 pandemic when we lobbied for common sense policies that did not make visitors prisoners in their hotels and allowed them to enjoy the country’s many outdoor attractions without hindrance and in safety. We simultaneously pushed for policies that put tourism workers near the head of the line for vaccinations while at the same time campaigning for all Belizeans to be vaccinated.
Similarly we regularly advocate in the areas of industry regulation, taxation, economic support and related areas including crime control, sargassum, environmental policy, transport and labor relations. Some of these efforts take place through our representation on various boards and committees (Belize Tourism Board, Sargassum Task Force, Airline Development Committee, PACT and DFC to name a few) while other means take the form of personal contact with officials at BTB, Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations and Government in general. We try at all times to maintain a positive relationship with Government but we are not afraid to respectfully disagree with some policies when they conflict with what we believe to be the best interests of our members. In general we favor policies that promote sustainability, nature-based tourism and the preservation of authenticity in our tourism product.
At the same time we are always looking outside of Government to promote projects financed both internationally and domestically that will advance the development of the industry. This is done at the level of BTIA national as well as local chapters and individual members. These include educational opportunities, loans and grants.
Outside of specific advocacy efforts BTIA regularly sponsors educational activities ranging from direct specialty training courses (recent culinary offerings are a good example) to industry-wide gatherings (Tourism Summit in May).
But the most visible BTIA activities take place at the local chapter level. Where would we be without Lobsterfest, Mangofest, Chocolate Festival, Sidewalk Arts Festival and Mistletoe Ball just to name a few? These kind of events took a major hit during Covid but this coming year will see a return to form as our local chapters work hard make our various destinations not only more attractive to visitors but promote increased morale and cohesion among the thousands of Belizeans who make tourism so successful.
So what does BTIA do? Plenty! Find out more at our Annual General Meeting on January 10. And please don’t forget to renew your membership.
IN THE HEADLINES
MINISTER OF TOURISM MEETS WITH BTIA BOARD
In November, Hon. Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism & Diaspora Relations, Mrs. Nicole Solano, CEO, Ministry of Tourism & Diaspora Relations and Mr. Evan Tillett, Director of Tourism, met with the Board of Directors of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA).
Minister Mahler provided a status update on key industry developments and highlighted the promising growth in projected arrival numbers over the next few months. Minister Mahler also shared various opportunities available to BTIA’s membership in upcoming training, community development and marketing initiatives.
Members of the BTIA Board, representing various industries and destinations, provided updates from their membership and offered suggestions on how both organizations can work together for the sustainable development of the tourism industry.
It was an interactive and productive meeting.
BTIA RAISES THE BAR ON BELIZEAN CUISINE IN SAN PEDRO AND CAYO
As global tourism rebounds after COVID-19, destinations are competing heavily to attract visitors. Culinary tourism is on the rise and our amazing Belizean cuisine is playing a significant role in attracting the attention of potential guests. Food is believed to rank alongside climate, accommodation, and scenery in importance to tourists. To be competitive, we must continuously work on improving our standards and putting our best face forward. On this premise, BTIA organized a “Raising the Bar on Belizean Cuisine” training. Two sessions have been held to date in San Ignacio and San Pedro with a third session scheduled for Placencia in January.
The interactive training sessions which were led by Chef Sean Kuylen and Dr. Lyra Spang were a mix of classroom instruction and hands on cooking. The grand finale was a five-course demonstration dinner for guests at each venue. The chefs who participated have described the experience as eye-opening and inspiring.
Chefs and sous chefs in Placencia and nearby communities, mark your calendars for January 5 and 6 and get ready to create and elevate. We look forward to seeing you at Naia Resort and Spa.
BTIA JOINS MEMORIAL PARK STEERING COMMITTEE
The Memorial Park in Belize City sits on the sea front and offers a memorial to fallen World War I soldiers. It has become a historic landmark providing a venue for leisure and economic activity for residents of the city.
The Belize City Council and the Belize Tourism Board recognize that there is much potential for further development of the park and have formed a steering committee that will review and make recommendations for improvement. BTIA has been invited to serve on this committee and collaborate in the joint effort to create a vibrant park that will be attractive to visitors while serving the needs of the community.
The first meeting was held in late November and had the participation of BTB’s Destination Development Officer, Leslie Sanchez, Councilor Natasha Pipersburgh, BTIA’s Renae Martinez, City Administrator Mrs. Stephanie Lindo and Belize City Council’s Director of Administration, Ms. Sharlene Rudon.
BTIA TOLEDO HOLDS SUCCESSFUL MEMBERSHIP MIXER
BTIA Toledo Chapter held their year-end Membership Mixer on Friday, December 9th in Punta Gorda Town. Representation came from all areas of the Toledo District including Punta Gorda Town Council, Punta Gorda Police Department, media outlets, numerous tourism stakeholders within the district and local associations.
Mr. Dennis Garbutt, BTIA Toledo’s Chairman, spoke of the energy from the new BTIA Board, their efforts to re-build tourism in Toledo and the 2023 Calendar of Events, including the renowned Chocolate Festival of Belize.
The mixer event was a success at expanding BTIA Toledo’s membership and has brought new enthusiasm to the community as a whole.
BTB IN PARTNERSHIP WITH BTIA HOSTS PROFILE BUILDER 101 WORKSHOPS
In late November, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) in collaboration with BTIA hosted a series of Profile Builder 101 Workshops which were held in Punta Gorda, Placencia, Hopkins and Cayo.
The workshops were focused on the one-on-one profile creation for the Travel Belize and Belizean Traveller websites. The participants were instructed on creating and updating their profiles on these websites which attract tens of thousands of visitors yearly. This is an excellent opportunity for tourism businesses as their information will reach both international and local tourists and they will be able to share their promotions and deals with them.
Linette Canto and Renae Martinez represented BTIA and used the opportunity to share information on the association and its activities, with the goal of increasing membership.
Special thanks to the BTB and to all those who participated.
PLACENCIA MISTLETOE BALL 2022
The Mistletoe Ball, the largest and most glamorous holiday celebration on the Placencia Peninsula, was held Saturday December 10th,at the beautiful Umaya Resort. With the last Ball being held in 2019 it is safe to say the Peninsula community was more than ready for this night and they were not disappointed.
More than 200 guests enjoyed a one of a kind holiday buffet that included succulent braised ox-tail, craboo smoked bbq chicken, Korean spiced shrimp and vegetable stir fry, a longaniza and garbanzo bean curry along with an assortment of delicious sides while enjoying festive holiday music in the upper level banquet hall. Meanwhile downstairs, more and more people were joining the festivities dressed in their finest dresses and outfits. It didn’t take long for the party to get underway with Placencia’s DJ Boneyfide starting off the night along with the Super Furia Band. The dancing started inside but soon spilled out onto the deck. The comfy little seating nooks found from the main party area down to the lagoon side dock were perfect for those that needed a breather or just wanted to catch up with old friends. The Ball lasted well into the wee hours of the morning and it is being modest to say a good time was had by all.
Many party-goers made a weekend out of it, taking advantage of the discounted room rates being offered by Umaya. For those who chose not to stay, the Holly Jolly Trolley (a.k.a. The Mistletoe Express) offered free shuttle services throughout the night and helped to make sure everyone got home safe and sound after the fun was over.
Along with the dinner and the dance there was a grand raffle with over 50 prizes donated by area stakeholders.
The Placencia Tourism Center, headquarters of the Placencia BTIA, has been holding the Mistletoe Ball since 1999 and it is one of four the major fundraising events that are organized by the Placencia BTIA annually.
This event was made possible by the support of Umaya Resort, REMAX 1st Choice Belize, Itz’ana Belize Resort & Residences, Lost Reef Resort, Ocean Breeze, Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), Placencia Office Supply, Laura’s Lookout, De Tatch Restaurant & Beach Bar, Sutherland Fresh Vegetables, Smoqiz, Bamboyaz, Bird Island, Harvest Caye, Belize, Belize Unknown, Hammock Time Management, Caribbean Beach Cabanas, The Little Wine Bar, Jaguar Lane Bowling, Flowers Property Management Services, & Driftwood Gardens Guesthouse.
LIFEGUARD TRAINING IS HELD IN CAYE CAULKER
Caye Caulker BTIA has successfully conducted its first ever training of lifeguards. This 40-hour, in-person training was held from November 14 to November 18 in Caye Cauker via the institutional strengthening initiative which was supported by BTB’s Matching Grants Programme. Eight persons were trained in basic lifeguarding skills with the aim of becoming fully trained lifeguards by June 2023.
The objective of the lifeguarding course was to provide participants with the knowledge and skills to prevent, recognize and respond to aquatic emergencies. Congratulations to the organizers and participants.
BTIA’S PLACENCIA AND DANGRIGA CHAPTERS HOST MIXERS
BTIA’s President, Stewart Krohn and Executive Director, Linette Canto completed their 2022 destination visits with stops in Placencia and Dangriga.
BTIA Placencia held their Annual General Meeting on October 21, which culminated with the election of a new board that is led by Chairperson Elysia Dial. This was followed by a mixer which allowed for BTIA executives and members to socialize and network over food and drinks.
The following day, October 22, BTIA’s President and Executive Director visited Dangriga to meet with the BTIA Dangriga Board, members, and prospective members to chart the way forward for the chapter. The Mayor of Dangriga, His Excellency Robert Mariano, participated in the discussions and pledged to lend his support to the Dangriga Chapter.
Both events were positive and productive and we are looking forward to an amazing year ahead.
HOLIDAY TIPS FOR HOTELS AND RESORTS
The holiday season means different things to different people. People are either traveling to see family or booking a vacation to get away from the busy season. Many are planning holiday outings, reserving hotel rooms and making travel plans for the new year. Hoteliers can capitalize on these festive times to set yourself up for marketing success in 2023. Here are a few simple tips to incorporate into your hotel’s social media strategy during the holidays.
- Post About Special Things You Do for Guests
Showcase the special things you do for your hotel guests. Do you leave seasonal treats during turndown service? Does your chef prepare a special menu that’s only available during the holidays? Do you decorate our hotel from head-to-toe in lights and garland? Share these on social media to showcase your holiday spirit. It will attract attention and hopefully future guests.
- Promote Holiday Specials on Your Social Channels
Post about your holiday specials. Make it easy for potential guests to know what specials are available to them during the holiday season.
- Share a Staff Photo from Your Holiday Party
Be sure to post a photo or video of your staff enjoying the holiday season! If you have a company party coming up, be sure to get a quick picture of your staff. Fans enjoy seeing behind the scenes content and getting to know the people behind the brand.
- Post About Local Events Happening in 2023
If you haven’t started, you’re behind! January is right around the corner. Ideally, you should start talking about an event 3 months in advance so people can make their plans to book with you.
- Get Organized
Get your calendar out and begin mapping your marketing efforts for 2023. Here are some additional things to work on:
- Update your cover photos and profile pictures.
- Review what worked for you on social in 2022 and what didn’t.
- Decide what new marketing tools and techniques you’d like to implement in 2023.
As you close out 2022, resolve to implement some new things to keep your hotel relevant during the holidays. We wish you a very Happy Holiday season and a prosperous New Year.