Tourism Industry Conference Focuses On Destination Marketing

Friday morning the BTB hosted its annual Tourism Industry Conference under the theme "Destination Marketing & Its impact on Belize." This year's conference had a particular focus on cultural immersion tours as well the current challenges facing Belize's tourism industry.

We stopped by the conference earlier today and spoke to one of the Keynote speakers, Stephanie Jones, about how Belizeans can monetize sharing their culture with the curious traveler.

Stephanie Jones, Founder, C.E.O.,Cultural Heritage Alliance for Tourism
"I'm so happy to be here today with the Belize tourism board speaking on the cultural immersion phenomena. Cultural immersion is really about the people because we're all cultural beings and it's about the destination and how they go about engaging their local community assets to provide these local cross-cultural immersion experiences to tourists when their visiting a destination tourist want to have this local engagement and immersive experiences with local people they want to be engaged in the culture through food, through music, through dance, through the art and just local exchanges because it just makes the experience so much more memorable."

Jocelle Stephens, Public Relations Manager, BTB
"In Belize we have throughout the country from PG literally to Corozal we have different groups that actually engage in cultural tourism so for example the mayan community they have the homestays and at the homestays and at the homestays its where you can actually live with a mayan you actually cook with them you eat with them, you sleep with them. So you understand what it is that they experience day by day. Then we also have on the Garifuna side in Hopkins and in PG there are different cultural groups that actually showcase how to make the hudut. They may dress in their full attire and they also show their dancing and it's from generation to generation because within those groups you see the little children that are also a part of it."

"The main objective is to edify our stakeholders on trends that are happening in terms of industry development for tourism so our topic today, the overarching theme is destination marketing and the impact on Belize, and why destination marketing. We need to ensure that we are marketing this destination correctly. We need to ensure that the messages that we are giving to our target audiences are on point. So we decided to focus on that theme this year. But we also wanted to look at what are the trends that relate to that type of marketing and so we came up with the sub-theme of cultural immersion trends in tourism but of course we can't forget the challenges that we are facing also and so the second part of today's program will focus on the challenges that we're facing."

"Without a doubt you guys are aware that we have a challenge with sargassum. Globally there is a challenge with climate change and BTB understands the impact that sargassum has on the tourism industry."

Stephens also told us that the BTB has been pushing a Sargassum awareness campaign as well as conducting site visits to areas affected by Sargassum, and providing tax reliefs for clean up and disposal of the material.

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