It is for a fact that countries around the globe are experiencing the economic impacts due to COVID-19. Here in Belize many companies and government departments had to undergo some sort of cost-saving measures. The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) was one of those organizations that had to implement cost-saving measures in order to cut back on expenditure. These measures lead to the BTB terminating some of their employees. Today, Love News spoke with Misty Michael, Director of Marketing & Industry Relations at Belize Tourism Board, to see how they have been coping during this pandemic. According to Michael, they are taking advantage of the downtime caused by COVID to focus on improving their services.
Misty Michael, Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, BTB:” We’re trying to be creative in how we continue to keep the destination top of mind. Like I said we continue to work with our international marketing agencies especially in our key top source markets which are the US, Canada and the UK, Germany and France. So we’re trying to make the most of the time that we have, make the most of the down time right now to see how we can improve our operations and become more efficient. I think the pandemic has also helped us to shift our operations a little bit now as well. We are moving towards paperless operations, we’ve set up all our hoteliers to now be able to file their guest registration forms and their monthly accommodation and tax revenue filings online so we’re trying to adapt to what that new norm would look like when travel really does start to take off again and I think that’s important because with the new norms and social distancing and all of that coming into the way we do business it’s going to be important for us to try to make our operations as efficient and effective for stakeholders. All of our marketing efforts there are some immediate actions that we’ve undertaken but there are also those long term recovery efforts that we are looking at. I’m not at liberty to disclose what those are right now but it is something that is in the works. We are actively involving stakeholders along the way, there was actually an activity that several of our stakeholders took part in about a week ago with our US marketing agency that will form a part of what those longer term recovery efforts will look like.”
While the Belize Tourism Board has been focusing on improving their services they have also been focusing on restarting the economy. According to Misty Michael, Director of Marketing & Industry Relations at Belize Tourism Board the key to bouncing back post-COVID is through local tourism. She added that the BTB has partnered with several stakeholders to provide deals for Belizeans interested in touring their country.
Misty Michael, Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, BTB: “The BTB launched our Belizean Traveler campaign and we’ve basically partnered with the properties that have expressed interest in reopening for domestic travel and they have put together special packages and rates for Belizeans. We have properties at ever level. We have low level and when I say low level I’m talking only price so we have hotels that are offering rates as low as a hundred Belize a night as well as up into several hundred for the night and those of course will be the more high end luxury type of hotel but there’s definitely an option for pretty much everybody’s budget. We also launched a website called Belizebooking.com and that website has offered a platform to the hoteliers and tour operators and tour guides to list their property, the services that they’re gonna be offering as well as the rates that they have available for Belizeans.”
Michael noted that while pricing and bundles are being offered the focus is on providing safe travel for both local and international persons. So, what’s next for BTB during these times that safety is the determining factor rather than price?
Misty Michael, Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, BTB: “Our marketing and promotion of the destination has never stopped throughout the pandemic it’s just the messaging has shifted somewhat. We were not selling the destination but rather we were being empathetic to what was happening, encouraging travelers to be safe and inspiring wanderlust, keeping that awareness of Belize going so that when travel does resume Belize is at the top of their list for consideration. So in the meantime we continue to plan for the recovery and rebounding of the industry with more aggressive marketing efforts that will be put into place when travel does resume again and we’re also working with our industry partners like Airport Authority, the Immigration and Nationality Department, Customs and Immigration, the Hotel Association to put together what the new health and safety protocols are going to look like for the industry. As I mentioned safety is going to be the number one concern for travelers, it’s no longer going to be price they’re gonna be more concerned about seeking out destinations that they consider safe. So we’re working on putting those protocols together. We should have those ready to go within the next few weeks and when they are finalized then there’ll be a public education and awareness campaign.”