The Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr. and his team from the Ministry of Tourism and the Belize Tourism Board held a community meeting with the island’s tourism stakeholders to share the progress being made in their ambitious Two- year action plan and to discuss priority issues. This was held at the Holiday Hotel on Saturday, May 14, 2011.
Highlights included an update on the sustainable tourism project, new initiatives being undertaken by the BTB, and Ministry of Tourism’s latest initiatives and projects.
Over the past decade, tourism has emerged as an integral pillar of the Belize economy. Tourism expenditures represent about 22% of GDP, and one in every seven jobs is related to or driven by tourism. The health of the tourism industry in Belize is key economic driver and vital contributor to the quality of life for all Belizeans.
The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) has a long history of guiding and enabling the development of sustainable tourism in Belize. As tourism becomes an increasingly important part of Belize’s economy, the BTB has a primary role to play in maintaining the nation’s competitiveness in the global and regional tourism market place.
Listening to Director of Tourism of the BTB, Mrs. Seleni Matus, as she presented the Tourism Action Plan at the community meeting in San Pedro, it was clear that she and her team are gearing Belize’s marketing and industry relations in the right direction. With the advent of new technology and online channels, the BTB has realized that it cannot continue marketing Belize as they have done in the past.
Thus the BTB has undertaken a full internal review of its operations, with the consultation of international tourism experts and local stakeholders, to develop a 2-year Action Plan that will help it to meet the demands of the 21st century. The Action Plan lays important groundwork and serves as the foundation of the Tourism Master Plan that is being developed by the Sustainable Tourism Program (STP) of the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture and the BTB.
At the meeting, a summary of the Action Plan was presented, which highlights priorities and changes to BTB’s marketing strategy, new programs in destination planning and quality assurance and efficiencies in the BTB’s collection, operation and finance systems. These are the four major areas that the Action Plan is tackling in order to set Belize in the right direction of boosting our country’s tourism industry.
Within Marketing and Industry Relations the BTB’s messaging strategy will shift aggressively towards real time communication, through a multitude of online and offline tactics, including acquiring additional human resources, building a social media-driven, real time, online presence, open new markets and market niches with trade partners and online marketing which enables the ability to clearly track, measure and report campaign results and now consumers interact with BTB websites.
By working closely with the Sustainable Tourism Program, the BTB will launch a Destination Planning program to manage cruise destination, support the development of locally-owned tourism enterprises, and provide technical assistance to Belize’s key ecological and cultural attractions. The management of tourism in natural and cultural destinations throughout Belize will be improved and destinations like San Pedro, Belize City, Placencia and San Ignacio are high on the list.
Quality Assurance is also another area that is on BTB’s top list. From accommodation cleanliness to customer health, safety and services, Belize will build an incentive-based national ID brand by enhancing industry-specific quality standards through legislation and licensing. Quality assurance will be directed towards standards for accommodations, training programs, standards for tour operators and guides, establish standards for food service sector and establish a comprehensive QA management system.
Revenue Collection is also a key factor for the industry to work properly, thus the BTB is moving forward to fully integrate registration and cashier functions. All hotels, tour operators and tour guides or other entities will be assigned a “Control Number” for all financial and administrative correspondence. The Revenue Collection Department will improve capacity-building outreach to increase revenue and the BTB is addressing system improvements to ensure databases are integrated, and policies and procedures are revised to work with the new accounting system software.
The BTB’s board of directors, in collaboration with the BTIA, BHA and BNTOA, says it is ready to lead the industry through the changes that will make Belize one of the first choices among world-class destinations, and ensure tourism’s continued contribution to the economy of Belize. They invite all of us to join them.
To view the Full and/or Condensed version of The BTB Tourism Plan 2010-2012 Click Here