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#372833 - 04/08/10 12:04 AM New BTB Director: "Strengthen and Broaden BTB"  
Joined: Nov 2002
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Short Offline
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New BTB Director introduced to the media

[Linked Image] She was announced as the new Director of the Belize Tourism Board on February tenth and today Seleni Matus was formally introduced to the media during a luncheon press conference at the Radisson Fort George Hotel. Flanked by the Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia, the Ministry’s CEO, Michael Singh, and the BTB’s new Board Chairman, Lindsay Garbutt, Matus said the new vision will entail a different approach to refresh our branding and marketing efforts that will advance Belize as a fiercely competitive destination.

Seleni Matus, New Director of Tourism, BTB

“We need to very quickly, within the next two to three months, clearly define an action plan that will articulate what the key activities and the recalibrate tactics are that will take us to the next level and position Belize as a leader in destination stewardship and really help us to refresh the branding and marketing activities that we have going. Clearly, it’s also important that we look at transparency and accountability. What we intend to do in this action plan of ours is lay out very clearly what the indicators are that we will be using to measure the results and to hold ourselves accountable to the people of Belize. We are also looking to strengthen partnerships with key stakeholder groups. What we’d like to do is demonstrate quick wins. We need to create momentum, we need to be more effective, and so the approach here is yes, we are working with the Ministry under longer term, a tourism master plan, but what we intend to do over twelve to fifteen months is demonstrate concrete advances and results toward positioning Belize as a leader in destination stewardship.”

BTB to strengthen institution and broaden its outreach with partners

[Linked Image] So just how will that be accomplished within twelve months? Well, the initial plan is to strengthen the BTB institution and broaden its outreach with partners.

Lindsay Garbutt, Chairman, BTB

“We are further committed to developing new strategies to meet the new and emergent challenges of our times. I can assure you that in developing these strategies, as the director has done, that we will count on stakeholders’ participation every step of the way. Our goal is to forge a genuine partnership built on trust and shared goals and values.”

Michael Singh, CEO, Min. of Tourism

“We’ve been looking at trying to find the routes that make the most sense for the volume we have that match the type of traveller that comes into Belize. So have strategically been looking, for instance, we had a visit with Alaska Air about a month ago and that might sound very strange to you but Alaska Air is very large in the Pacific Northwest, which according to our statistics have shown that that is the type of passenger that likes to come to Belize; the people that like outdoor adventures. They’re a bit more adventurous and they have more disposable income.”

Seleni Matus, New Director of Tourism, BTB

“Launching a campaign to increase repeat visitation, converting cruise ship visitors to overnight visitors; they are already here at our shores. We keep mentioning issues of airlift capacity. We have the majority of our visitors coming through cruise ships and so we definitely look to implementing a very aggressive campaign to increase conversion of cruise ship visitors to overnight visitors. We’re also looking at penetrating the Canadian and European markets and other emerging markets in Latin America, our neighbours; mainly Mexico, Guatemala and as far as Brazil for instance.”

Increasing training for frontline personnel and looking at ways to effectively bring European tourists to Belize is another area Matus and her team will work on. Matus’ term took effect on Tuesday. She replaces Tracy Taegar Panton.

Live and let live
#372836 - 04/08/10 02:23 AM Re: New BTB Director: "Strengthen and Broaden BTB" [Re: Short]  
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 3,046
Peter Jones Offline
Peter Jones  Offline
So the Director works for the CEO? As far as I'm concerned, game over.

#372847 - 04/08/10 08:17 AM Re: New BTB Director: "Game Change" [Re: Peter Jones]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,039
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

New BTB Director Unveils Plan for Game Change

The new Director of Tourism Seleni Matus was officially introduced to the media today. She takes over from Tracy Panton who held that post for ten years. Here’s what the Minister had to say about her as she unveiled a plan for game change.

Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism
“We are confident that the sustainable knowledge and experience that Ms. Matus brings to the table in sustainable tourism, facilitation of complex multiple stakeholder initiatives and community outreach coupled with Mr. Garbutt’s long involvement and leadership in the tourism industry will together help us to look beyond business as usual and to chart a clear path.”

Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism
“One of the key priorities is this concept of result oriented planning. We need to very quickly, within the next two to three months clearly define an action plan that will articulate what the key activities and the recalibrated tactics are that will take us to the next level and position Belize as a leader in destination stewardship and really help us to refresh the marketing and branding activities that we have going.

This will start by developing what I keep referring to as the game changing action plan with the input of stakeholders. It will be a short term plan with a very clear focus. We will be ruthless at keeping on track. We have for very long tried to be everything for everyone and that has not worked and so we definitely need to revisit what we do and how we do and ensure that we are really investing in those activities that have the highest return for our industry.”

Lindsey Garbutt, Chairman – BTB
“I am very comfortable that with this board united as we are that we will move tourism forward in the way that the new Director just explained. We are committed to taking a new approach to how we move forward our tourism agenda, an approach that will be grounded stronger ties with the entire tourism stakeholders throughout the country.”

And while the new Chairman is with the game change, Matus also spoke specifically about the Tourism Board changing its focus to internet marketing and focusing on the high end market.

Seleni Matus,
“From a marketing standpoint we know importantly from the marketing intelligence we have that travelers, there are very clear shifts in how they are selecting destinations and how they plan their travel. Most of this target audience is very focused on using the internet as an integral part of their daily life so it is really to shift our advertising to be more in line with what these individuals are doing on a daily basis to put Belize in front of them in their daily lives. So it is really moving, shifting from print media to focus more on social networking, also doing more online advertising, and so that is a drastic shift in how marketing is done for Belize.”

Jules Vasquez,
“Is there any way of making Belize a not so expensive destination? If you look at those we are competing with, I would say just in this region, Belize is a lot more expensive.”

Seleni Matus,
“It is and that has been a recurring issue and concern from many camps. However we have seen that if we are very smart in really zooming in on segments of the market that really have the disposable income to have this rich experience that you find here in Belize that we still are able to increase heads in beds and plan for that sustainable growth.”

The game change plan will be ready in three to four months and Matus will report to the media in another 12 months.

Channel 7

#373079 - 04/10/10 12:28 PM Re: New BTB Director: "Game Change" [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 153
chris45 Offline
chris45  Offline
Ah,a new direction from the BTB. Excellent.I wonder if that will include the following:
1. Answering e mails from the general public?
2. Scrapping the ridiculous idea of landing cruise ship passengers in Placencia/Big Creek/Punta Gorda or whatever other place they've noticed on a map of Belize where the blue bit meets the green bit.
3. Intervening in this nonesense about a ban on dairy products before potential tourists die laughing (and go elsewhere)

No? I thought not.

The one thing that would change Belizes fortunes in the tourist market is to make travel costs to Belize comparable to other central American countries. This however comes under the heading of too difficult. So instead, they give another coat of paint to the "Sustainable Tourism " palace they now have in Belize City.
Credibility of BTB? Absolute zero in my book. And for non-scientists, Absolute Zero is defined as the temperature at which all molecular activity ceases......

#373082 - 04/10/10 12:36 PM Re: New BTB Director: "Game Change" [Re: chris45]  
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 3,046
Peter Jones Offline
Peter Jones  Offline
The "director" works under the direction of the CEO.

We have never been told why the previous "director" was replaced.

#373424 - 04/14/10 02:17 PM Re: New BTB Director: "Game Change or Game Over?" [Re: Peter Jones]  
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,443
Short Offline
Short  Offline
Tourism: Game Change or Game Over?

[Linked Image] “The tourism industry, in particular, will benefit from special marketing effortools headed by a new high powered Director, and the continuing efforts to lower airline fees and attract new carriers”- – excerpt from PM Dean Barrow 2010/2011 Budget Speech

It is no secret that the tourism industry has been struggling for some time and in the 2 years of a UDP government it has not gotten any better. The press conference held this week to “introduce the New Director of Tourism” further validates this point. Ms. Seleni Matus indeed has a wealth of experience over the past 10 years but it is all in NGO work and as a project manager and the language she used in her media interviews ( “game changer” action plan, monitoring indicators and framework of broadening partnerships) is typical of her NGO training. After decreased arrivals, decreased occupancies, termination of employees, low profit margins, an overtaxed tourism environment, those in the business of tourism are looking for more than a “kumbaya” moment and more than just fancy talk.

It is even more disheartening to learn that (in addition to the fact that Ms. Matus is a straightforward political appointee who neither applied for the job nor has the tourism management or marketing experience) she will not be in country full time until July. She is doing courtesy visits, press conferences, the media circuit but then she leaves and as we understand the BTB will fly her in from time to time between now and July….perhaps this is what the PM Barrow meant by “high powered”. For an economy and an industry that does not have financial resources readily available, it is amazing that the industry continues to be given the shaft: first with taxes and now with an absent Director of Tourism, a political appointee with very little experience in Belize’s tourism industry. But, political appointees such as Ms. Matus, handpicked by CEO Mike Singh, are accustomed to sweetheart deals that allow her such frequent flyer privileges. According to sources her package is quite hefty and one that came at the expense of the Deputy Directors who all received a salary cut.

The new Chairperson of BTB, Lindsay Garbutt, also has something in common with the new Director of Tourism (other than being UDP supporters). He too has worked for Conservation International as a Project Manager while Ms. Matus was doing work for Conservation International in Belize. Both he and Ms. Matus are friends of this Washington based NGO, although none have any proven results for Belize from this alliance. Mr. Garbutt was also the former Executive Director of Friends of Nature, an NGO once located in Placencia. It is widely known that while he held the post he came under much scrutiny for operating without transparency by allowing all engines for the NGO’s boats to be purchased from his Suzuki marine business, being paid a very lucrative package as an Executive Director of an NGO and he was mostly absent from duty for his personal business affairs. So now he and Ms. Matus are at the helm of the BTB with oversight by the shrewd businessman, Mr. Mike Singh who is involved with the Belize Yacht Club (among other things), a hotel that is not even a member of the Belize Hotel Association or in compliance with hotel license regulations. A very interesting mix: not one of them has any substantive or significant tourism management experience. So much for the priority of tourism, right!

Finally, for these new marketing strategies that the PM referred to, there isn’t any. When interviewed, Ms. Matus referred to “penetrating the European and Canadian markets”, “looking at our Central American neighbors”, “coming up with an action plan”, “rebranding the Belize tourism product,” “doing more internet and social network marketing” , “conversion of cruise passengers to overnight tourists” and CEO Mike Singh referred to “one meeting with Alaska Air”. Sounds familiar? All these things have been said, recommended and tried from both former PUP and UDP governments…nothing new. Same old games!

Tourism is serious business and needs more heads in beds not more frequent flyer miles for the chosen handpicked UDP supporters at the helm of BTB. With the millions of dollars invested and the thousands of people working in the industry one would think that the Prime Minister and his government would take tourism more seriously.

Live and let live
#373438 - 04/14/10 04:31 PM Re: New BTB Director: "Game Change or Game Over?" [Re: Short]  
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 8,880
seashell Offline
seashell  Offline
This article makes it all sounded pretty appalling.

A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?

#373439 - 04/14/10 04:34 PM Re: New BTB Director: "Game Change or Game Over?" [Re: seashell]  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 8,868
SP Daily Offline
SP Daily  Offline
To be expected coming from the voice of the opposition.

#373442 - 04/14/10 06:09 PM Re: New BTB Director: "Game Change or Game Over?" [Re: SP Daily]  
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,417
Katie Valk Offline
Katie Valk  Offline
And the former Minister of Tourism to boot. Neither govt understands what Belize is and the tourism industry has done best for the decades its been providing wonderful experiances for overnight visitors.

Belize based travel specialist
#373444 - 04/14/10 06:26 PM Re: New BTB Director: "Game Change or Game Over?" [Re: SP Daily]  
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,443
Short Offline
Short  Offline
I always determine my opinion afer hearing 2 sides of the story. That being said, she does speak NGO language, but she is extremely intelligent! Only the future will tell us whether her appointment is the right desicion for Belize. I truly hope that she is smart enough to understand that an increase of Hotel Tax would be disastrous for our tourism industry!

Live and let live
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