The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) is pleased to announce the newly established tourism zone in the Fort Gorge area of Belize City, now called the “Fort George Tourism Zone” (FGTZ). The new improvements to this area will enhance experiences for both locals and visitors; and overall statistics about Belize’s cruise industry. FGTZ officially opened today, Wednesday, December 8.
Over the past decade, the cruise industry has increasingly attracted more and more international travelers to Belize, while also serving as an important contributor to the local economy and employer for Belizeans. To ensure the continued success of this vital tourism sector, the BTB, Belize City Council, and Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture worked together to create a sound plan that will help Belize remain competitive within the global tourism marketplace.
The Fort George Tourism Zone is located in the immediate vicinity of the Fort Street Tourism Village in Belize City. This area is constituted by all of Queen Street (including the swing bridge), bounded on the west by Haulover Creek, and on the east and south by the Caribbean Sea.
Surveys from visitors are saying that they are far from comfortable with the way things were before. “Cruise passengers have consistently rated Belize as the number one destination for tours, so we know that our product is unparalleled and that we have something very good to offer,” stated Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism. “That’s consistent. At the same time, though, those same cruise passengers who want to come to Belize City and walk around and see what we have to offer and buy tours from the independents often leave with a very bad perception of Belize and actually we are consistently rated as the worst destination in that regard.”
And with this in mind, BTB believes that improvements to the new Fort George Tourism Zone are an important step in helping local businesses more effectively sell their products and services in an equitable and orderly marketplace.
There are lots of changes to come especially in the way business was carried out by taxi operators, food vendors, tour guides, hair braiders and other operators. Operationally it will translate into a complete change from business as usual.
“We’re looking at improved traffic flow systems, which will include the One-Way flow of vehicular traffic off North Front Street, will now be in effect every day (Sunday to Sunday) from 6:00 am – 6:00pm.,” stated Lloyd Enriquez, Coordinator, Tourism Zone. “We are also looking at the establishment of the dispatch booths at the various gates next to the FSTV, so that when guests come out, they will interface with a dispatcher.”
That means guests will no longer be directly approached and solicited by tour guides, hair braiders and others – that is now the duty of the dispatcher. Once the dispatcher has a very good idea of what tour the guest wants to take, that person who is on the rotation in line will be able to close that sale, will be able to approach and to close that sale and to give more details as to the tour or whatever it is. But all 10, 15, 20 people will not be able to approach, only that person who it is first in line will be able approach and to close the sale.
These improvements are essential in creating a friendly and enjoyable experience for cruise ship passengers and other international tourists, encouraging them to return to our beautiful country again and again.