By Marion V. Ali
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.