Tourism industry optimistic about rebound to 2019 levels
The UN’s World Tourism Organisation says that an estimated 700 million tourists travelled internationally between January and September 2022. that’s more than double the number recorded for the same period in 2021. This equates to 63 percent of 2019 levels and puts the sector on course to reach 65 percent of its pre-pandemic levels this year. For Belize, the picture looks just as promising. The BTB’s Director for Capacity Development, Abil Castaneda says Belize is certainly on the path towards the levels of four years ago.
Abil Castaneda, Director, Quality Management and Capacity Development, BTB: “ When we look at the numbers for instance I spoke about the cruise arrival, the overall arrivals also have been very promising this year. This year internationally the experts were saying we would have bounced back anywhere between 60 to 80%. Belize bounced back around the 70 to 80% close to the 80% mark this year. We had over 370,000 overnight arrivals visiting Belize compared to a little bit over 500,000 and 2019 so we are well on our way back to being recovered as we put it but even so there has been already some interesting indicators that have popped up in our monitoring system that gives us a very positive light in terms of where we are from an economic point of view. So when you look at what our supply chain is you know the main supply areas like hotels and tour operators and even tour guides from a point of view we are seeing that hotels and tour operators for instance have recovered to about 92% of where they were in 2019 so we did lose some hotels and some tour operators in terms of licensed to hotels and operators but we are now seeing about 92% of them already being back. That is good, that is excellent news. From the tour guide point of view which speaks more to your employment and to your labor impacts we are seeing that we are at 101% already of where we were in 2019 so people are getting back to work in the industry.”
Belize is on a good path to recovery and the industry in the short term intends to revise and revamp the National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan. Castaneda explained more.
Abil Castaneda, Director, Quality Management and Capacity Development, BTB: “This year 2023 this is the year that globally it is expected that everyone will be back to 100% of where we were in 2019. We are when you compare us to the region we are about 5 to 10 points above where the region is so we are well on our way to being able to meet that mark and as Michelle is saying we are doing all that we can do from a marketing capacity to ensure that we can even go beyond to where we were in 2019 because that is sort of where the plan, the strategy for tourism development is. This year we also will be finalizing an update to our national sustainable tourism master plan where we are updating it as we speak in fact next week we have a team from Australia and from the University of Belize to come and do site visits and consultations with our industry as a final step in the update of that master plan which is to update it after the economic shock that happens because of COVID-19. Also to integrate things like climate change and health and safety and all the things that were missing in the original sustainable tourism master plan and we are also looking at other very important elements for the industry one of them is tourism hospitality training institute has been an initiative or recommendation that has been with us for many years but we have not been able to mobilize it. In 2022 we were able to mobilize the initial stages of design of looking at what that institute could be and should be in so in 2023 we are very excited that we will be able to see the first sort of phase of that hospitality training institute coming online so that will be also a game changer because it will allow us to be able to provide a standard calendar of programs, of training for the tourism sector and for those who want to enter to the tourism sector.”