BETEX Shows Off the Best In Tourism
Today, the Belize Tourism Industry Association held the first day of their 2014 Belize Tourism Expo at the Princess Ramada Hotel in Belize City.
The expo comes around every 2 years, and brings stakeholders in the industry in location to promote their tourism products. 7News stopped in to see what this year's participants brought to the showcase. The President of the Association explained its importance:
Herbert Haylock - President, Belize Tourism Industry Association
"It's the Belize Tourism Expo, it's the 2014 event. We do this event every two years, so the last event was in 2012 and then part of that was in 2010. The event is really one that's geared towards getting again the BTIA membership in particular because it's for that particular emphasis and purpose for the association to be able to have those members come to the floor like this at this particular show and offer and present what they have to sell to again, incoming agents and wholesalers who are here basically to do business. So what is going on behind me on the floor is you have business taking place where agents and wholesalers are meeting with particular properties and talking about what they have to offer and how they can be incorporated particularly into those agents and wholesalers itineraries and what they sell and sell onto their clients and customers."
"Tell us about some of the items that the different businesses have on display for those passing through?"
Herbert Haylock - President, Belize Tourism Industry Association
"Again you have properties represented from all different parts of the country; from San Pedro, Placencia, Cayo, Orange Walk as well, Caye Caulker, Toledo - you have various properties represented. Essentially they are here today to do the very same thing I mentioned which is to talk one on one in terms of business and sell what they have to offer."
The Expo included a training session this afternoon, which continues until tomorrow afternoon.
B.T.I.A. holds its biennial tourism expo
Tourism stakeholders are meeting for the rest of this week in their expo known as BETEX. It is one of the major events hosted by the Belize Tourism Industry Association and this year, there are new and familiar faces. BETEX provides immense opportunities to those in the market to show what individual operators have to offer to lure visitors to the Jewel. Duane Moody was at the Ramada Belize City Princess this morning when the business sessions kicked off.
Duane Moody, Reporting
The Belize Tourism Expo (BETEX) is organized biennially by the Belize Tourism Industry Association; it affords over three hundred and fifty members an opportunity to showcase the adventurous opportunities and luxurious getaways for tourists and international and local booking agencies. It started back in the mid-1990s.
Herbert Haylock, President, B.T.I.A.
“This session that we are at today and tomorrow morning, business sessions, one on one meetings that are going to be designed for the purpose; business is being done. We are talking about future seasons, trying to establish packages, looking at that relationship and solidifying that relations and that is the goal ultimately of this particular event. Apart from that, it is an opportunity where Belize as a country has to showcase all that it has to offer through the properties that are participating today and through the others that have offered or are participating on the post tour end because when we are done with business between today and tomorrow, one of the other part the event is that the participants who come in, the visitors are going to go out to a number of these properties for site inspections and tours in the various destinations and locations around the country. So we are talking business today and real time in terms of business.”
BETEX was officially opened on Tuesday night with a gala event, but between today and on Friday, it will be all business. The best in the industry set up booths in the King’s Room of the Ramada Belize City Princess. From various travel operators, hotels and resorts, tour operators, and other attractive, adventure-based organizations…there was something for everyone. And information on these places was readily available for those in attendance.
Marcella Williams, Revenue Manager, Maya Island Air
“We’ve been absent from the show for a while, but this year, we decided to come and let everybody know what we have to offer. We offer many scheduled flights around the country. We offer chartered flights and we have three exciting tours that we are showing on these videos. So we are gearing up and chancing our brand and changing our image.”
Marc Dibrita, Manager, Chan Chich Lodge
“We have a beautiful location straddling Orange Walk and the Cayo District. We sit on thirty thousand acres of protected private property that’s ours that is part of an even wider protected area of Belize, really one of the special aspects is providing that wildlife corridor…great chance of seeing a jaguar or a margay when you’re visiting Chan Chich really one of the most special things that people visit us for is for the birding, the wildlife and the nature is just a beautiful aspect of this beautiful part of our country here.”
“Tell us about some of the services that you have, I know you guys have this nocturnal walk or something like that.”
“Yeah we do night walks and night drives so people get to go out and see the some of the nocturnal birds and snakes and spiders and stuff like that, so some of the scary stuff but as long as you stay high up in the track you will be safe. Our tour guides they are absolutely second to none, between four guides and eighty years of experience right at Chan Chich Lodge.”
“Karina Chukka here at the Tourism Expo…couldn’t happen without you guys.”
Karina Cunil, Marketing Officer, Chukka
“Of course you now we always say it is time to play and we love to offer the guests that experience to let loose and enjoy what this beautiful country have to offer and what better way to that than at BETEX. You know the trade partners and the suppliers work hard to build the country to where it is, to highlight that and to let everybody know that the wholesalers and the travel agents look forward to it every two years so that’s what we are here doing again.”
“Now of course Chukka, tell us about what you guys have to offer with your amazing tours that you have.”
“Well as I mentioned Chukka is doing soft adventure tours, we are doing our zip lining and cave tubing which you have experienced and you know we just love to show that to everybody. We have our crystal caves which is one of our more amazing caves and the opportunity to just be am always amazed that this is right here in our backyard and we have people who come in then you show them that it is just amazing. It is an amazing feeling.”
2012 Tour Operator of the year, Splash Dive Center, out of Placencia was also present this year at the event.
Patricia Ramirez, Owner, Splash Dive Center
“The reason for us being here is to be able to meet new travel agents and make them try to bring their customers to Belize and try to show them the best experience ever. We offer from scuba diving, snorkeling, all the inland tours and scuba instructions. We use to sell mostly activities only in Placencia, but we now offer all over Belize. So anywhere where our customers want to go, we try to give them the best experience.”
Also throwing a little fun into the tourism expo was SMART. Asuscena Reyes spoke of the offers for tourists and the stakeholders.
Asuscena Reyes, Sales Manager, SMART Belize City South Side
“We want to make sure all these resorts, all visitors have an opportunity to get affordable communications in Belize. We not only do phone services we also do data and data on the go which means then even people just visiting can purchase a mifi or a dongle and have data on the go while visiting for a month or a week or even a year so that is basically it, communication, advertising our good pricing, we also have fixed telephone lines, we have anything for businesses or even just for persons on the go.”
According to President of B.T.I.A., Herbert Haylock, the association ensures that its members provide top quality experiences that are second class to none in the region. And over the years, this has added to the numbers in overnight tourists to the Jewel as well as the extension of the high season.
“It’s been a joint effort across all different areas from the regulatory end with the efforts that the B.T.B. does, but you do have to give a lot of emphasis and credit to the other players in the industry; direct members not only of B.T.I.A. but within the wider industry that take the opportunity to travel to these events to market, to promote not only their properties but by extension the country Belize. So that happens, it is being done on a consistent basis by everybody and I think it is a collective effort. As a result of all of that that has ended up in some of the arrival increase that we have seeing. Coupled with that, I think the information about Belize in terms of the fact that we are here, it’s a really unique destination, authentic attractions that we have to offer at the end of the day; that is catching on and I think people have begun to realize that.”
Belize’s tourism industry has expanded over the years and with encouraging tourist arrival figures, and those taking part in the Belize Tourism Expo (BETEX), which opened Wednesday night in Belize City, feel that the industry is poised for much greater things to come.
BETEX, a trade show that is held every two years since 1996, offers those in the tourism industry the opportunity to market their products and services. It provides an opportunity for wholesalers, agents, travel media to visit Belize en masse to discuss with local tourism service providers what they have to offer.
The trade aspect of the show ends on Friday afternoon and for the remainder of the weekend the visitors will go on site inspections of the tourism destinations.
While the event has over the years expanded to include more of the products and services on the Belizean market, Herbert Haylock, the president of the Belize Tourism Industry Association, says that there are still a few loopholes that need to be plugged.
These include shortcomings in infrastructure and space issues at the country’s only international airport.
Another area where he sees room for improvement is in the availability of floor space for such an event. With more space, Haylock feels that even more tourism businesses can tap into a broader scope of trade with other countries and perhaps even include regional countries in the event as is the case in other countries.
“The show must get bigger…and be like a one-stop where everybody wants to be a part of.”
Belize has done well, Haylock said, in consistency on quality of product and in keeping our tourism product fresh and this has made Belize’s tourism thrive.
The economic climate, despite what it has been on other sectors, has not negatively impacted tourism, according to Haylock. On the contrary, and as evidenced by statistics provided by the Belize Tourism Board, tourism arrivals to Belize continue to increase each year. He added that the traditional “end of season” now extends beyond the Easter week, says Haylock, and in 2013, our information is that tourist arrivals numbered 294,000.