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#225454 - 01/03/07 08:51 PM travel commentary
Marty Offline
from a friend...


It is always interesting to travel and get a feel as to how natives elsewhere on the planet are doing.

Here are some observations from my last trip:

Beware of pickpockets:

Pickpocketing is a big thing in Paris, apparently, enough so that the tour company issued a verbal warning to our group upon our arrival. Beware of pickpockets everywhere... they said... in the trains, on the streets, etc. On the tour to the Louvre museum, it was suggested that we leave our purses/bags in the bus and the bus would remain closed with the driver as guard. "Be especially aware of pickpockets at the Mona Lisa", we were warned. Our group had no incidents to report, thankfully, but I did spend half the time at the Louvre distracted trying to ascertain who the pickpockets might be.

Lesson for Belize:

Paris didn't seem to have a problem attracting tourists despite the warning. The lesson for Belize is that its better to warn people about local perils than to try to whitewash any ills. People (travelers) respect you more for telling the truth up front.

Bathrooms:

In a survey that I don't have the link to right at this moment, it was noted that travelers judge the cleanliness of an accommodation based on the cleanliness of the bathrooms. You would have much happier guests if your hotel's bathrooms were spotless. In Europe, at the hotels where we stayed, all the bathrooms were superb. To top it off, the newest bathroom fad seems to be these great little buttons in the wall that you tap with your elbow to make the flush. No need to touch anything with your hands. It was either these, foot pedals or sensors.

Lesson for Belize:

We have a hard time keeping anything clean in Belize thanks to the ubiquitous tropical mold but do the clorox thing on the bathrooms as often as you can, hotels.

Water:

Barry Bowen's bottle of water costs about $1BZ in Belize City, and probably $2BZ ($1 US) in touristy locations such as SP or Placencia. His small bottle of Coca Cola is $2BZ in Belize City and probably $3 BZ in the touristy areas. In the U.S., a small bottle of water is fairly cheap, probably about the same price as Belize. In London, a liter bottle of water comes in a hard glass bottle similar to a champagne bottle and costs at minimum, 4 British Pounds or $16 Belize Dollars. A regular can of coke costs at minimum 1.50 British Pounds or $6 BZ. In Paris, a can of coke was $6 Euros or a little more than $12 BZ. A bottle of wine in Europe is much cheaper than a bottle of water or a can of coke. Europeans are accustomed to drinking wine rather than soft drinks with their meals. I don't think soft drinks is as big there as in the U.S.

Lesson for Belize:

During the European season (summer months), lets throw a HUGE wine festival in Burrell Boom, home of the best cashew wine, berries wine, sorrel wine, stinkin toe (bukut) wine, etc. Better yet, why don't we make a concerted effort to make a BIG promotion of this local cultural facet. It is a huge potential that is untapped. We can do a marketing blitz espousing local wines instead of soft drinks at special occassions such as baptisms, weddings and birthday parties.

Hotels:

Most hotels in the Western world are these huge imposing concrete multi-unit complexes. In my humble opinion, the charm at places such as Ian Anderson's Caves Branch, Ek Tun and Chaa Creek is priceless. It is unique, cultural and unmatched. The experience is worth a fortune.

Lesson for Belize:

What you have to offer is unique, beautiful and rare. Appreciate its incredible value.

Escorted Touring:

Our tour started in London, and ended in Paris about ten days later. This was an "escorted" Globus Tours. Escorted touring is phenomenal! It is incredible to have a designated person that speaks your language literally guiding you every step of the way. It makes for a most relaxing vacation in the sense that you don't have to waste time trying to figure out how to get things done in an environment you are unfamiliar with. During any transfer from country to country, the tour guide gave running commentaries on the population, government, culture, history, etc. of each area. Even in transit you were learning something about the area you were in. I thought it was an excellent way to travel.

Lesson for Belize:

I think a lot of stress for travelers to Belize if figuring out how to get from point A to point B. While the local airlines do provide some relief, no one is offering guided tours of Belize country, e.g. 1 day in Corozal, 2 days in SP, 1 day on CC, 2 days in Cayo, 2 days in Placencia and one in PG, let's say, with all the hotels, tours, etc. arranged in advance for a no stress experience. One tour bus and one tour guide driving down the local highways explaining each area to the tourists as they pass would be a phenomenal experience for tourists. No company exists, that I know of that currently offers this type of Belize experience. It might be a good niche market to tap and I think I will try to market that type of thing in the future. We did a European Sampler with Globus Tours. I think I will call mine a Belize Sampler. Ray, you could probably do a hostel version of the same thing.

Oops, gots to run for a minute. BTW, on my return at the PGIA yesterday, I noticed that the runway extension was almost done and it looked like it was getting ready for paving. It had already been packed and smoothed. The new entrance road to the airport also looked mostly complete. I think the runway extension will overrun the old entrance road and beyond.

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#225464 - 01/03/07 10:10 PM Re: travel commentary [Re: Marty]
SimonB Offline
"No company exists, that I know of that currently offers this type of Belize experience."

Both International and Belize Expeditions do this as does Beyond Touring.

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#225545 - 01/04/07 08:45 AM Re: travel commentary [Re: SimonB]
ScubaLdy Offline
When ever I have two or more guests coming at the same time I urge them to take a taxi from the international airport to the muni airport. The cost of the taxi is made up for in the lesser charge for the airfare. There are two main reasons I recommend this; one you and your luggage will get on the same Tropic Air plane and two the entertainment and education you get from the taxi driver is worth the price.
Of course the best thing about San Pedro is how friendly the people are – even we gringos. I give people rides on my golf cart any time I can. I meet the most interesting people this way. Today I offered a ride to a couple who were approaching the bridge. I had to go up north a couple of miles and they made the round trip with me. They have lived all their life in Belmopan and this was only their 2nd trip to the island; the first more than 20 years ago. I feel that I have made two new friends and they got a guided tour.
_________________________
Harriette
Take only pictures leave only bubbles

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