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#318903 - 01/16/09 03:15 PM Old B.T.B. director wants enhanced tourism product
Marty Offline
Tourism is big business in Belize... even with the slump that we have been experiencing in tourist arrivals it continues to remain an economic priority. And while the Ministry of Tourism is looking at various means of re-attracting visitors to the country, for BTIA member and consultant Valerie Woods, there are still a lot of little details that need to be taken care of to enhance the visitorís experience. Woods, a former Director of the Belize Tourism Board, was a guest on this morningís Open Your Eyes and relates some of the minor changes she feels need to be made.

Valerie Woods, Member B.T.I.A.
ďSo I get at the airport and I see this big box information centre. I think that is not good. I think it should be welcoming, I think it should be open; this is a tropical destination. Let the sun shine and just have great smiles. It is so difficultówhat is so difficult and opening your eyes and saying hi, welcome to Belize, how was your flight? And if the person says oh, it was so terrible. Forget that, for the next seven days, you are in for the experience of your lifetime. Why, because we have a, b, c, d, e. How are you going to do that from a black tinted box at the Immigration? What is this box? Itís an actual office thatís an information bender that has been placed there. I thought that was such a backward move for us at the airport. Then you go by the carouselóthis is all new and I challenge anybody to go look at thisóyou go to the carousel to pick up your bags and so youíre waiting and there is this very nicely done advertising signs. Right now itís all Roe Group of Companies, nothing wrong with that; itís a great company and has several products. But one of the products is Homeland Memorial burial ground. Iím sorry I just donít think when Iím standing there with my fins waiting to go on my vacation in Caye Caulker, Placencia, that I have to see an ad saying your eternal resting place. What? So if I should die, Belize is taking care of me as well?Ē

ďI donít think we are taking the product seriously if we donít look even at those details. And then you exit and going to the municipal airstrip or hotel Mopan or one of those hotels in the city. So I get into a taxi and I donít particularly like the view I see, overgrown bush because thatís what it is. Grass is grass, but bushis bush; letís be real. So if itís a national priority, that first impression I get from exiting the airport to Belize city or exiting the airport up north depending on where my vacation will take me, itís critical and we are not as a country, if we are going to be serious about the product, then we have to take that into consideration. If you were to do a walkabout in the city objectively, are you satisfied with what you are seeing? There are houses that do not look appealing. We mixóbecause of lack of planning, perhapsóthere are commercial against residential; itís just not appealing. We have a fantastic product, Iím very proud of the tourism product that we have, weíve been really endowed naturally as a country; but there are certain planning and management mechanisms that I think as a challenge we still have to grapple with.Ē

Those issues and other areas will hopefully be addressed in the National Tourism Master Plan. In November the government secured a $26 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank to finance the development of that plan as well as to improve facilities at key tourist destination sites.


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#323883 - 02/15/09 06:09 PM Re: Old B.T.B. director wants enhanced tourism product [Re: Marty]
Harvey Offline
The B.T.B. is an organization with good intent but unable to provide same to the public because they are not completely informing them of the situation(s) in Belize. They want to paint a pretty picture of the country to make the visitors happy and to entice more to follow. However, even though it is a fantastic country to visit, beautiful, fantastic climate, wonderful people and a reasonable cost, The government they must come into contact with provides a terrible example, especially the Police Departments, mainly in Belize City and Belmopan. They act more like Nazi Storm Troopers. Clean up this act so tourists feel more comfortable and Belize will be a nicer place to visit.
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#323895 - 02/15/09 07:29 PM Re: Old B.T.B. director wants enhanced tourism product [Re: Harvey]
shuffles Offline
IMHO

Things will never be "right" with the BTB until they are no longer a government agency. Once they can be out of the "business" end which involves collecting tax, auditing hotels, etc., then they can perhaps concentrate on promotion of tourism, becoming eco-friendly, etc.
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#323900 - 02/15/09 08:18 PM Re: Old B.T.B. director wants enhanced tourism product [Re: shuffles]
Peter Jones Offline
I don't agree. There is a proper role of regulation and supervision, and that must be performed by government in one form or another. No, they're just a badly run organisation that needs a kick up the rear end. I don't know whether underfunding is a part of the problem, but one way or another some radical changes are needed.

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#323902 - 02/15/09 08:29 PM Re: Old B.T.B. director wants enhanced tourism product [Re: Peter Jones]
shuffles Offline
You don't have to agree with me Peter. If you owned a hotel, you might have a different opinion. Then again, maybe not.

Check other places around the world. I doubt that Hawaai's tourism board has anything at all to do with collection of hotel tax, auditing hotels, regulating hotels, etc.

What about the UK? Are their tourism departments and the government entwined?
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#323919 - 02/16/09 01:14 AM Re: Old B.T.B. director wants enhanced tourism product [Re: shuffles]
Peter Jones Offline
Don't get me wrong. I know there's a lot wrong with the way things happen at the moment. I said so. But regulation has to happen, and even if the industry regulates itself there has to be government oversight. It's the marketing side that needn't/shouldn't be government. For the required regulation part we have the BTB, and for the marketing side the BTIA. Neither fulfils their role properly at present.

And yes, in the UK tourism is marketed and regulated by (different) government agencies. They don't handle collection of taxes because there's well-established department of government to do that, but I'm sure they contribute information on tax-paying tourism bodies.

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#323921 - 02/16/09 01:46 AM Re: Old B.T.B. director wants enhanced tourism product [Re: Peter Jones]
shuffles Offline
Ok, but the BTB is the one with all the money. The BTIA (I'm sure someone will correct me if I am wrong) was started as a group made up of tourism stakeholders, a "private" entity as much as it can be.

Sure the BTB participates in some trade shows,they are a complete government agency. They control who is allowed to have a license, what the taxes are, and how to make sure they are collected.

The only time I see the BTB get involved in any real "tourism" issues is when someone like Matt Lauer comes down here. Then you see the BTB EVERYWHERE. They want to be sure to get in on all of the big news events.

BTIA members put together the Eurpoean trade shows that are going on now. They put up the money, they knew what it was going to be spent on, they agreed about what to do, where to go, who to send, what the participating hotels would pay. The BTB says, "we're going to X, here's how much it will cost you to put some brochures at our table". And then, many times it is only a few days that you have to decide if you want to pay to send brochures, and then, get some together.

I may be wrong, but I am pretty sure that hotel owners, and most BTIA members would agree that the BTB and the BTIA are totally separate entities, founded for different reasons, and by a totally different "interest" group.
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#323946 - 02/16/09 05:34 AM Re: Old B.T.B. director wants enhanced tourism product [Re: shuffles]
Peter Jones Offline
I'm sure you're right. Maybe we should lobby for the BTB to fund the BTIA to conduct specific marketing ventures? Do you (or anyone) know what the BTB's annual budget is?

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#323954 - 02/16/09 01:44 PM Re: Old B.T.B. director wants enhanced tourism product [Re: Peter Jones]
shuffles Offline
I think GOB is about to, or just has revealed the new budget.
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