In this context, Travel2latam spoke with Gale Ozaeta, Head of Communication and Marketing at the Belize Tourism Agency.
How do you describe the current state of tourism in your destination today?
If we compare our visitors today to 2019, before the pandemic, we are at 92%, which is very good and represents more than what we thought we would be in December 2023. We received more than 55 thousand visitors, Therefore, we believe that by 2024 we will exceed pre-pandemic figures.
What attractions does Belize have and can they be highlighted?
Our reef is number one in those who know us, know them. We are also part of the Mayan world, we have several ruins from the north to the south of Belize, more than what people know. And we have several cultures in addition to the Mayans, the Creoles, mestizos, Garifuna, Mennonites. So we focused on the reef, the Mayan world, the gastronomy which is very good and the wellness too.
From the point of view of global promotion, in which countries or regions are they promoted and how do they do it?
The United States is where we invest most of our marketing dollars, because we record more than 70% of our visitors from there. Also Canada, and in Europe we promote ourselves in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. And in the rest of America, in Mexico, Central America and South America.
What types of programs do you have to encourage tourism?
For tour operators and agencies that sell Belize we have a program where they earn points for each night they sell in our destination, then they accumulate points and with the points they can get free nights in Belize or get free activities or products that are made locally such as handbags or clothes and different things.
Connectivity must be very important to you…
There are flights but we do not have direct connectivity from Europe. It is carried out through the United States or Central America.
Are they working on generating it?
Yes, and we are very close to confirming something from Europe. And when we talk about America, there are direct flights through Mexico, with a local airline from Belize, through Guatemala and Panama. And from the United States there are several companies, now we have Jet Blue with a direct flight from New York.
How will you continue your international promotion?
The next event will be ITB Berlin in March and in April we will go to WTM in Brazil. We are doing several road trips with suppliers from Belize that we take them to meet different tour operators and agencies in the countries in which we promote ourselves.
What figures do you have regarding the number of tourists and spending at the destination?
By 2023 we record almost 500 thousand overnight visitors, and with cruises that also arrive in Belize, we reach almost 700 thousand. It is said that Belize is an expensive country, because there are quite a few boutique hotels that do not offer All Inclusive, we also import food and gasoline is expensive because we do not produce it. So a visitor who participates in activities spends on average between 300 and 500 dollars a day with hotel, food and activities, although you can always spend less if you wish. In general, they usually stay 5 to 7 nights, and they visit the Mayan ruins, go to an island and visit the reef on the day.