BTB Takes On Another Prickly Matter: The Tourist Trap At FSTV

And while the Tourism Board presides over those tough, tense and tricky deliberations in Placencia - that's hardly all that is on the resurgent organization's plate. Yesterday it launched a new action plan which deals with - among many other things - another tricky area, that's the periphery of the Fort Street Tourism Village.

On cruise ship days the area can be wild - and surveys completed by cruise visitors shows - it's leaving visitors with a sour taste in their mouths.

It's been happening but Yesterday at the launch of the new BTB action plan - the BB explained its plan to do something about it.

This is from our files, but it's a familiar scene, cruise visitors being swarmed by scrappy service providers at the tourism village. According to the BTIA and the BTB, it's giving Belize - as a tourist product a bad name:

Jim Scott, Vice President - BTIA
"Statistically that guest that will get off the ship and go on an organized tour with our tour operators rank highest if not one of the highest in the Caribbean as a destination, and those who get off the ship and just come and walk around the city we are ranked almost the lowest. Now what is the parallel with overnight tourism? Every single person who comes off that ship is a future customer, a potential future customer to come back here and really experience Belize."

And now, the BTB - which historically has emphasized overnight and not cruise tourism - is moving swiftly to try and mop up the mess at FSTV.

Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism
"So for instance we are already working on is establishment of the first tourism zone which will be right outside the Fort Street Tourism Village to create the Fort George tourism zone and so work on that has already commenced. The idea there is to first of all establish basic order, it's a very simple yet complicated process and we have Lloyd Enriquez and his team that are working with City Council to establish the legislation that would give us the teeth to more effectively with other agencies come in to establish visual improvements in that zone, address visitor management and traffic flows in that region and security of course and also looking at opportunities for working with the hair braiders and vendors to improve their presentation. We are starting with the most prickly point which is increasing order and so we will have better queuing systems, for instance, for the operators working outside the village. Again it includes the traffic, looking to reduce congestion out there."

It is an attempt to create a quick fix at a long neglected sore spot - part of a new regime that has vowed to be accountable and result driven to end a prolonged downturn:

Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism
"We know that over the past 5 years the growth of tourism, in the last 2 years has taken a dip. Prior to then we were averaging around 3% or so growth over that time period. With this plan we intend to change that trajectory as I mentioned. Between now and when we have our industry presentation in mid November we are looking to define what those very specific targets are that we will hold ourselves accountable to."

The BTB will launch a public relations effort next week to advise those who work in the area of their plans….

Channel 7