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#409643 - 06/10/11 08:56 AM Tourism Gets Major Marketing Boost
Marty Offline
These days, tourism really is everybody's business - it accounts for a quarter of Belize's GDP and is our top foreign exchange earner.

That's why today's industry presentation was news, not just for hotel and resort owners.

It's been a year since the BTB took on a new direction behind director Seleni Matus. And while the new model has attracted its share of controversy and rancor, today the Prime Minister made it clear, he is completely with it, because the numbers show that tourism has taken a turn from contraction to growth. We found at more at the event today:…

Jules Vasquez Reporting
The BTB pulled out all the stops for the 12th. Tourism Industry Presentation. It was a full house at the Biltmore this morning, industry stakeholders, government officials, diplomats, officials, observers, advisors; it was webcast, broadcast on TV and radio to Belize, and all points beyond.

But more than just a show, it is a reckoning, the Prime Minister keyed in on why the event is important

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"It provides the opportunity for BTB, the Ministry of Tourism and the Government of Belize. In the full exacting and perhaps pitiless glare of media and public scrutiny to account to you the stakeholders for the health of the industry. It gives all of you a chance to mark your scorecard and having done that to holler back to let us know what we are doing right, what we are doing wrong and what we are perhaps not doing at all."

Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism
"At the end of the day this is the pulse check. Today serves as the pulse check - we are here to basically share with you the challenges and achievements we've made in this past 12 months."

And, what the renewed BTB is doing is rebounding from a year of negative growth - which accounted for a quarter of GDP even in a down year.

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Tourism must continue to be the consuming pre-occupation of our national economic development strategy. Accordingly we will charter now a national tourism council design to mainline tourism into the country's development strategy. Tourism must now be operationally enshrine as a priority across ministries."

And apart from taking a place of prominence in government affairs - the BTB is almost doubling its expenditure on marketing:

Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism
"This year is a big year. We are really bringing about a large infusion of funding to marketing in order to really help us make that leap."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"The BTB has spent as average of 6.5 million dollars annually on marketing. This year that is going to increase to 12.1 million dollars. There was a BTB operating surplus last year of 2.2 million dollars and that the money realize from the new efficiencies will be plowed straight back into marketing."

Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism
"That doubling comes with a lot of deliberate thinking that it is putting each dollar in the places where they need to be and so it's really doubling with a lot of strategy behind there."

The strategy is for the BTB to use internet and new media to promote the Belize product:

Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism
"What you will see the BTB do is really infuse innovation and so they will be giving you a sense of the new approaches and tactics that we will be using to really put Belize in those spaces we are meeting consumers and that's what has been lacking. We have been out there put not in those spaces where you are finding consumers."

And the Prime Minister made it clear that he was duly impressed with the plan for what's ahead:

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"There is a positive culture shift at the BTB at a herculean effort now at a great leap forward and this is to be commended."

And if there were still some doubters in the audience - the PM made it clears which is the horse and which is the carriage:

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I reiterate the fact that in tourism governments' official agencies must work in lock-step with the private sector."

And if all parties can work together…

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"No one can doubt that now is the time for us to become a global leader, a global model for sustainable tourism development."

At this morning's event, the BTB also publicized the fact that it's giving 2.2 million dollars to its partners, the BTIA and the Belize Hotel Association….

Channel 7

#409647 - 06/10/11 09:05 AM Re: Tourism Gets Major Marketing Boost [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The tourism industry makes up almost a quarter of Belize’s National Gross Domestic Product in revenue and with that in mind, key players in the industry converged at the Biltmore Plaza for the twelfth annual Belize Tourism Board industry presentation. Director of Tourism Seleni Matus spoke on the accomplishments and challenges the board encountered since April of last year.

Selini Matus – Director of Tourism
“The past 12 months have been focused on three main elements. The first is ensuring that we set a new course and that was captured in our two year action plan that was launched in November of last year. That plan was developed by you. It really represents the first industry level plan. We brought in a team of experts in key areas and they sat for many hours with many of you in this room to really capture what you felt were the priority issues and then with you to identify what those strategies were for addressing those priorities. Many of you, all of you have with your agenda a copy of the synthesis of that action plan; that really serves as our blueprint, that’s what we use on a daily basis to keep us on track and as they say, focus makes for great work. The second element of our journey involved reorganization. A plan is a plan, it is people that really drive change and so we took a critical look inward and ensured that we had the right team to deliver on this very ambitious plan and that took us through some very difficult moments and decisions however with the Minister’s support I am here today to say that we have built that A team. The third element of the change that has occurred is really focused around accountability. I think we were very sincere at the outset of our journey in saying that one of the things that we would do is always come back to you to share progress, to share challenges, to be held accountable for this responsibility that we had. And so with the action plan we also set out a dashboard of indicators that would give us a sense and be able to report to you on a yearly basis.”

Some of the Government’s commitment to the development of tourism in Belize was underscored by Prime Minister Dean Barrow in his keynote address.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“Tourism is our compensating gift from nature, our compensating gift from God. We need to make the most of it, to be smart and wise custodians and to ensure that we develop this product both for the long haul and for the majority benefit of Belizeans. This is thus the proper time to pay tribute to the BTB and the Tourism Ministry. I believe they have been supremely aware of the situational imperatives and I believe they have acted accordingly. I look at the very program this morning and I am fortified in that belief. I see that there is an agenda item titled new marketing partners and this tells me that there is continuing recognition of tourism’s corollary to the old mantra. In real estate it is location, location, location; in tourism it is marketing, marketing, marketing. In that context, I was also pleased to learn that there was a BTB operating surplus last year of 2.2 million dollars and that the money realized from the new efficiencies will be plowed straight back into marketing. Over the past five years the BTB has spent an average of 6.5 million dollars annually on marketing; this year that is going to increase to 12.1 million dollars. It will be the most ever to be spent on public relations and marketing and demonstrates like nothing else the unshakeable determination to position Belize now as the world class destination that it indubitably is.”

Other key priorities of the industry players include investing over seventeen million for the improvement of infrastructure and the aesthetics of destinations and attractions in Belize with country wide projects in Corozal, Punta Gorda and Belize. One of the first priorities is to create a high-quality Port Zone in Belize City for cruise line arrivals. In 2010, about eight hundred thousand passengers arrived in Belize by cruise ships and nearly five hundred thousand took daily excursions. Hence the need for infrastructure in the country to sustain positive gains from cruise tourism to Belize. The government presented a cheque of 2.2 million dollars to three marketing partners in Belize including Beltraide, The Belize Tourism Industry Association and the Belize Hotel Association.


#409650 - 06/10/11 09:08 AM Re: Tourism Gets Major Marketing Boost [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

BTB presentation says millions invested in selling Belize to the world

Tourism is on the rebound from the global recession that threatened the industry that provides jobs for one out of every four Belizeans. The Prime Minister said today that the numbers are going up and that Belize has survived the worst of it. Government is investing millions of dollars in different projects including infrastructure and travel trade. The marketing budget has doubled and the BTB will be spending twelve million dollars to package the Jewel abroad. News Five’s Andrea Polanco has a report from the twelfth annual Industry Presentation at the Biltmore.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Belize Tourism Board’s Industry Presentation highlighted the growth and underscored the industry’s outlook and initiatives. At the forefront of today’s presentation was the importance of Tourism to Belize’s economy. Prime Minister Barrow tasked the stakeholders to continue developing a product that is the lifeline for many Belizeans.

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

Dean Barrow

“In 2010 and despite the downturn we had been going through, Tourism has still accounted for almost a quarter of our entire GDP. Tourism is our compensating gift from nature, our compensating gift from God. We need to make the most of it, to be smart and wise custodians and to ensure that we develop this product both for the long haul and for the majority benefit of Belizeans.”

The budget for Marketing and PR, two tools essential to help Belize transcend as a first class tourist destination, has doubled.

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

“Over the past five years the BTB has spent an average of six point five million dollars annually on Marketing, this year that is going to be increased to twelve point one million dollars.”

Seleni Matus

Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism

“What we have done this year is really brought in new partners and with our thought leaders and influencers here in the local front is crafted a pretty ambitious dynamic new marketing plan. This plan focuses on really getting our message out almost on a real time basis using both offline and online tactics.”

Over night arrivals have increased by two thousand one hundred and twenty three visitors at the International Airport. However, there remains a dip in visitors rating. Last year only sixty three percent said the quality was good compared to seventy one percent in 2008. Two new initiatives have been designed to help strengthen and enhance the unique product.

Dean Barrow

“We will charter now a National Tourism Council designed to mainline tourism into the country’s development strategy and to ensure proper inter –ministerial and inter-departmental support for the industry. I will personally chair the council and it will bring together critical important colleagues alongside the Minister of Tourism. The second major initiative that I want to announce is government funding in the amount of one million dollars for the purpose of capacity and competitiveness building in tourism.”

Manuel Heredia

Another key area is infrastructure, which the tourism minister says will develop across the country in the upcoming months:

Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation & Culture

“Construction will commence over the next four months on the nine major infrastructure enhancement projects in Placencia, San Pedro, San Ignacio, Belize City and as well as key archaeological site. A total of seventeen point four million is being invested in drawing visitors to revitalize town centers, recreational centers and attractions as means for increasing the economic benefits that our local communities capture from tourism. In addition, The BTB Destination Plan Programme is investing approximately four hundred thousand over the next two months in other targeted infrastructure improvement projects in Benque Viejo Del Carmen, Corozal, and Orange Walk at the Northern, Western and Southern Border points.”

In expressing a solid commitment to the development of the tourism industry, a cheque of two point two million dollars was presented to BTB partners BELTRAIDE, BHA and BTIA. Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.


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