In August of last year, the Belize Tourism Board launched its Belizean Traveler campaign. It's an initiative to boost local tourism and entice Belizeans to enjoy their country the way an international tourist does. 

In theory, it's a win-win. Belizean travelers give hoteliers, tour operators, and other tourism stakeholders an opportunity to keep doing business all year round, especially during the tourism slow season; while Belizeans get to go on their dream vacations right at home, at more affordable prices.

Well, the BTB is stepping their Belizean traveler campaign by launching the country's first Travel Expo called BELTRAVEX. Unlike the regular consumer expo, where people go to get information and then decide later, BELTRAVEX is being promoted as a deals expo. Attendees will be able to buy their vacation packages on spot at prices far lower than regular market values. 

The BTB brass held a press conference today to announce this new event to the general public:

Misty Michael - Director, Marketing & Industry Relations, BTB
"BELTRAVEX, or the Belize Travel Expo is Belize and the BTB's first-ever travel expo. It coincides with World Tourism Day on Friday, September 27th. The theme for this year is Tourism and Jobs, A Better Future For All. When we began the planning of BELTRAVEX, we set out 2 primary objectives, the first of which is an educational component, and it's focused on secondary and tertiary students, providing a platform for them to learn about the tourism industry, and the different tourism products and opportunities available. The second objective was to ultimately boost local tourism, encouraging Belizeans living in Belize, as well as Belizeans living abroad to choose Belize as their vacation destination of choice and to be a tourist in their own country."

Michele Bowers-Flowers - Travel Trade & Hospitality Manager, BTB
"The first day commences on September 27th with, as Misty mentioned, an educational component whereby secondary and tertiary level institutions will have an opportunity to learn about the industry, and the different tourism products and services being offered in Belize. We have approximately 1,300 students and teachers from 22 secondary and tertiary level institutions who will be joining us. And they have registered to attend day 1. Some of the day's activities include a debate, a digital poster competition, and students' creativity will be highlighted."

"Now, the second day, Saturday, September 28th - that day will be open to the general public, and Belizeans will be able to purchase attractive vacation packages from over 25 participating tourism industry partners, including hoteliers, tour operators, and wedding planners. This is a part of BTB's efforts to promote local travel among Belizeans families, and to encourage them to vacation at home, and be tourists in our own country. It will allow Belizeans to book their vacations or purchases their tourism packages in real-time, at a very inexpensive price. "

So, as you heard, tomorrow is Day 1, and it is catered to approximately 1,300 students and teachers from over 22 secondary and tertiary level institutions throughout the country. The BTB and the over 30 tourism stakeholders who are partnering on this event want to educate these young Belizeans on the industry, its products and opportunities. Students may even get the opportunity to be recruited by some of the hoteliers and tour operators who are participating. 

On Saturday, Day 2, is when the expo's organizers are hoping that the Belizean public will stop by to shop around for those exclusive deals on vacation packages. 

At today's press conference, the BTB's Marketing and Public Relations Manager also gave an update on how the Belizean traveler campaign is going, since its launch in August:

Jocelle Stephen - Manager, Marketing and PR, BTB
"We've been talking about [our] Belizean Traveller campaign for a while. We launched that at the end of August, and as you can see, the end result of that campaign now is something that's tangle also to the public. They can now come to the BELTRAVEX, and they can enjoy their vacation packages and discounts."

"In August, when we launched the campaign, you guys met the social media influencer, Marilyn Vansen, and I wanted to share with you some of the results that Marilyn's campaign so far. Marilyn has visited the western region of the country, and she enjoyed some chocolate making tours, destinations, and the cuisines. So far - and this is just the first part of her journey because she's still scheduled to do the southeast coast of the country, where she'll do some snorkelling as well as some beach and marine life. But, just from the first part of her journey, she did 86 posts so far on Facebook, and Instagram. And what we've seen is a 300% return on the investment that we made on Marilyn. She has earned a media value of $30,000 Belize in just 86 posts. Her reach so far has been 39,000; her engagement has been over 5,000. And so, we're pretty pleased with this because it's amplifying the message for us that you can be a Belizean traveller."

The Expo takes place tomorrow and Saturday at the Belize City Civic Center, and entrance is free.

Channel 7