An initiative by the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), the Belize Tourism Expo (BETEX) is one of the most important events for the tourism industry. Any trade professional looking to doing travel related businesses with Belize would do well to check out BETEX. It is a five-day business-to-business event that aims to showcase Belize travel destinations, hotels, tour operators and other tourism service providers. International travel agents get the opportunity to meet and network with local suppliers, while learning and experiencing more about Belize in one concentrated area.
This year, there were 70 supplier companies across three locations: 30 from San Pedro and 40 across San Ignacio and Placencia. There were a total of 80 delegates (agents) from 45 different companies that visited the three locations during the 24th – 26th of June.
In San Pedro, BETEX was hosted at the Caye International Bank building on June 24th & 25th. Although initially scheduled to run through to the 27th, the event was cut short due to Tropical Storm Alex. The San Pedro Sun spoke to a few of the San Pedro participants, and even though the event was short, it was enough to make those all-important contacts. “We did get a lot of exposure, and we made a lot of new contacts. We had people who came over to the resort, and we took them snorkeling with Little Alfonse, and they got to experience Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley, plus they got to experience what Xanadu has to offer,” stated Blanca Narvaez of Xanadu Island Resort.
Roman Kay of Victoria House says, “Unfortunately, due to Tropical Storm Alex, the event was cut short. Had we had the one extra day of BETEX, we would probably have had even greater exposure to wholesalers and agents. However, for the two days that we did have the event, we were able to establish contacts. Perhaps future events could go back to a larger marketplace in one concentrated area, as in previous years. That would serve all participants better.”
The San Pedro Sun spoke with Idealabs’ Nicole Solano, as Idealabs was hired as the Marketing and Management Company for BETEX. When asked about the choice of three venues (San Ignacio, Placencia and San Pedro) versus one established central zone, Solano commented, “We need to review the format of BETEX in conjunction with suppliers.” However, she feels that overall BETEX was a success, especially with the feedback from the agents that participated. Certainly, there was disappointment that San Pedro was unable to enjoy the final day of BETEX on Saturday, as circumstances beyond their control called for the cancellation of the final day. “We are working on San Pedro Packets to send out to the various agents who did not get out to experience BETEX in San Pedro, ensuring that agents do in fact keep San Pedro in mind when considering selling Belize as a destination,” Nicole assured. She also stated that agents are particularly enthusiastic and pleased with this year’s BETEX, and are already looking forward to the upcoming one in 2012.
According to Valerie Woods, Chairperson of the 2010 BETEX Committee, and sitting member on the board of the BTIA, BETEX is a positive and unique opportunity to hold a trade show at the destination, rather than international trade shows where Belize as a destination competes with many more locations. “There is a lot of room for development and growth for Belize, and BETEX is a way to market it as a destination. In this installment of the show, the committee chose to have three marketplaces, and agents were able to access the areas they were interested in. In principle, it is a good format, but it does have areas to improve.” In previous years, BETEX took place in Belize City in one large area, where all agents and sellers were able to mingle, but there were limitations as to site visits. In 2008, the format changed, and as BETEX became more of a “Fam Trip” format, agents and suppliers were pleased with the results. Overall, Woods feels that BTIA would have to “consult and discuss which format will work, with both the members of BTIA and the committee, based on information recommendation from the management company (Idealabs).”
But what did BETEX accomplish this year? According to both Solano and Woods, the response has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. “The agents that came this year were interested in Belize specifically,” stated Woods. Thus, it is the quality of the agents who were in attendance that is of utmost importance. “We were very pleased with the outcome, as we met objectives with buyers and suppliers, and overall, we have very satisfied delegates. We are looking forward to feedback from all delegates to see how the show can be improved.” That of course, includes the format and location of the show, which will be determined upon further review by the BTIA and BETEX committee.
BETEX takes place every two years, and this was the seventh installment. The next BETEX showcase will take place in 2012.