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#44298 09/27/01 03:24 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
OP Offline
Been reading the speculation, prognostications, and general bull and decided to pitch in. I'm a frequent traveler so my guesses are based on real life experiences. I have businesses both in the U.S. and Belize and great interest in the tourism industry on San Pedro, so I have some factual data as well.

1. I don't know if mail between Belize and U.S. is stopped like someone stated but I and others have received mail after 9/11 from the U.S. here in San Pedro. FedEx is working. BTL, as usual, is not.

2. I personally spoke with friends that are hotel managers and owners here in San Pedro - there were cancellations for the two weeks after the event but there has been no significant cancellations for any other times. Of the 4 hotels I spoke with, there were three cancellations and one was due to death of the intended vacationer which would have occurred regardless. Three cancellations in the next two months is not significant.

3. Tropic Air has seen a drop in number of passengers flying from the International Airport. The traffic patterns are interesting, on Fridays-Mondays, the traffic is about the same as usual for the slow season. Tuesdays-Thursdays it is lower than usual.

4. Continental's traffic pattern matches Tropic (or the other way around, actually) and they've been full twice in the last 7 days.

5. I flew to Houston on Monday and back on Wednesday, both ways Continental was 60%-70% of capacity - not bad for slow season.

6. Travelling was no major discomfort, the added security did not bother me in any way and caused only minimal delays. Belize security was worse than the U.S. You had to scan your luggage, including carry-on, as if you're going to the gate then go to the ticket counter, check in your luggage, get your boarding pass and scan your carry-on again on the way to the gate. They need to relocate the scanner to where you enter the building and eliminate the double scanning. In the U.S. the most striking difference, beyond the greater time spent searching and scanning, is the inspection of vehicles being parked at the airport terminal parking. No problem, minor inconveniences that I could live with forever.

6. Houston Intercontinental, a place I visit way too often, was about 80% of normal for this time of year. Friends that work at the international ticket counter in Houston said international flights to Latin America is lower than usual but that it is picking up. One is a Belizean and he monitors the traffic to Belize everyday he works (actually, he looks to see if friends are flying). He says traffic to Belize "di see-saw - but pipple di go, no tu much but den di go"

7. While in the U.S. I had to go to WalMart, KMart, Home Depot, Lowes, Academy, and Office Depot. I was hoping for the empty parking lots and stores as I HATE shopping and crowds. Parking lots were about normal which means I had to walk a ways and the number of people inside the stores matched the parking lots. I figured for sure Home Depot and Lowes would be empty - who wants to build during a downturn in the economy? - no luck there either.

8. I eat out often and decided to go to mid-priced restaurants that I frequent to see if they were suffering. Again, no wait but restaurants had about 80% of normal traffic. I guess people are picking up fast-food and rushing home to see what course "the war" has taken for the day. Or maybe they're cooking at home. I'll have to try some fast food next week to see if there are lines.

9. Gas prices at my usual gas station was actually 7 cents LESS than it was a couple of months back.

10. At my U.S. business, business is as usual. We were planning on hiring a new programmer and will proceed with the hire of two new programmers. Distributors of our products forecast stronger sales for the next 3 months (our products do better when companies down size). Receivables is about the same, no slow down in collections.

11. I have yet to see a substantial reduction in revenue in my businesses however I do expect to see a reduction of 30% in tourism in Belize, 30% in construction materials in Belize, and a short term drop in real estate values at which point I intend to acquire more properties!

In all, my personal opinion is that although people in the U.S. are concerned, they do not feel that the economy will fall much farther and that feeling alone will cause them to continue their purchasing and bolster the economy.

Secondly, due to the lack of marketing over the years, Belize has depended on repeat tourists and word of mouth. I don't know the figures for the entire country but the 4 hotels I questioned all said that 70-80% of their business is repeat customers. These are tourists who know Belize and therefore will not feel threatened as they would if travelling to Europe. So we can expect to see tourism 30% less than it was a few years ago as long as the cost of travel does not increase.

There is another variable. If Belize can manage to lower the costs of vacationing in Belize, we can see tourism actually increase as more Americans will want to visit a country closer to home.

Well, as my friend BK likes to say, that's my 2 cents.

Jorge Varela

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 734
Thanks Marty,
I knew you didn't write that. You are not that long winded.
Jeesh, you take your job way too seriously!!
Hey, remember we had a Chantel scare prior to Sept.11th that slammed the doors on this island for 10 days. Some hotels still refuse to take the boards off. Including the one I am in--how tacky and untouristy (is that word in the booktionary?.
It just keeps coming. One financial drama after the next. I am an optomist too!!!
Common down--I will personally make sure you forget all your woes for at least 24 hours!!

[This message has been edited by Pier Lounge (edited 09-27-2001).]

Joined: May 2000
Posts: 88
You guys are great! It is refreshing AND encouraging to hear some real info in contrast to so much speculation. I had been wondering how this was affecting all of Belize and, especially, the cayes. Was also curious how Houston I was since I will be flying through there in three weeks. Thanks for the uptdate!

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 717
I'm GLAD glad to hear some positive input for a change!

Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 173
Good points made by Jorge. Thanks for your perspective.

I just returned from Jamaica on Sunday. I left Philadelphia on the 16th and went through Miami. The airports were doing a very commendable job in ensuring safety for all passengers and making the best of an extremely difficult situation. People seemed friendlier but slightly tense on the plane. People smile where they used to roll their eyes. There is patience and commraderie where there used to be none. To that extent, it's a good thing.

I flew American Airlines and one pilot chose to recognize the tragic events with a small speech before the flight-- the passengers clapped [Linked Image] On the other flights, I saw attendants who show their support with a remembrance pin. On our return flight (one week later) it was evident that official business was becoming more efficent and Miami was full of travelers. Security IS very tight though!

I can tell you this- Jamaica is suffering severly as a result of all of this. I think that the comparison is worth making since their economy is based on tourism like Belize. We were literally the only people in many restaurants we were in. It was depressig to see the waitstaff just hoping people would walk through the door. I think that my timing had a lot to do with it; there is no doubt that as the weeks and months go by travel will slowly resume to a pace that resembles "normal".

I would encourage people to stick with their vacation plans. I felt that it was very therapeudic and peaceful to be surrounded by such beauty and the serenity of the Caribbean. Your tourist dollars are needed and your contribution to the airlines of the United States will help to rejuvenate our economy.

[This message has been edited by AC Beach Bum (edited 09-28-2001).]

Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 5,563
This is all very good news. I am bringing a group or 12 plus down in March. I've been checking with each person to see if they are still "on" and no one has backed out. That sure makes me happy. Most have never been to Belize, some are not divers and one guy just wants to wander around town and sit on the beach smoking his cigars. Everyones attitude is very good.
What is not good are the prices the airlines are posting. Over half my people have frequent flyer miles so the $ don't matter to them. I can't get through to the group office.
I'm still planning to retire to beautiful A/c and have fully paid for my lot on Long Caye at Lighthouse. I'll start a new thread about this.
Thanks for real information.
Harriette Fisher

Take only pictures leave only bubbles
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 232
Thanks Marty !!! What do you mean about the double Scan? We are arriving on the 8th and our friends from corazol are meeting us for lunch at International. Are we going to have trouble with our luggage check-in? We had hoped to go to the Tropic desk after customs and check our bags then go upstairs for some wings with our friends. We arrive at 1:30 and hoped to spend a couple of hours with them before we fly to A.C. Any info is greatly appreciated!



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