By Alexis R. Milan, Staff Reporter
The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) has begun implementing a number of strategies and policies to ensure the sustainability of tourism in Belize City and improve the quality of service and tourist experience for visitors.
According to Destination Planning and Cruise Director Valdemar Andrade, the steps have come as a result of consultations with cruise partners who have expressed the concerns based on feedback from the guests on their cruises.
Andrade said the BTB in partnership with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has delivered business development training for all the groups of stakeholders in the Fort George Tourism Zone (FSTV), including hair braiders, tour guides, tour operators, food vendors and craft vendors. The training covered topics such as entrepreneurship, marketing products, customer service, understanding the customer, and sales techniques.
The BTB will partner with Aquila Center for Cruise Excellence to train tour guides that participate in the Cruise sector for the Belize City Port, Andrade explained. Aquila is the exclusive training partner of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA). The guides will be trained to Aquila Tour Guide Excellence certification standards as a specialized training for Cruise Guides. The first cohort of 50 tour guides will undergo training from the 23rd to the 26th of October.
The BTB and the Belize City Council have also established a formalized FSTV Management Committee and have been meeting for the past few months to ensure the proper management of the Fort George Tourism Zone (FGTZ). Many of the concerns raised by Carnival and other cruise lines have been tabled to this Committee for Action. Projects being currently under revision include, remodeling the vendor area on North Park Street, reorganizing pedestrian and traffic flow in the area, instituting and enforcing parking zones and no loitering areas and enforcement of trade licenses for all businesses in the FGTZ.
The BTB along with the Tourism Police Unit (TPU) have also updated and implemented the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the FGTZ particularly to ensure a better and safer guest experience in Belize City. The SOP particularly focuses on creating better business opportunities for the stakeholders of the FGTZ and managing the operators and their interaction with the guests in order to create a better experience.