BTB director confident cruise tourism will make a comeback – Love FM

While the Belize Tourism Board has focused on tourists coming to Belize by air, it is also channeling some of its efforts to address the challenges faced in cruise ship tourism. BTB’s Evan Tillett conceded that cruises have been affected by the many variants of COVID-19, but he is confident that this sector will also see a recovery to the levels seen in 2019.

Evan Tillett, Director of Tourism, Belize Tourism Board: “We’re actually heading to Sea Trade next week to meet with the cruise lines to try and get more and continue to grow number four in cruise tourism. The cruise tourism industry has had some challenges, especially the omicron issue and the whole COVID issue. I think the industry has taken a huge hit more than any other tourism sector. We continue to work with the lines to bring in new ships. They’re currently working on increasing their numbers, they were at 50% capacity, there’s up to 60-70%, almost 80%, then omicron hit, then they had to regress and so they’re in the process of to increase these numbers and so we should see a strong rebound in cruise tourism heading into 2022.”

About Seatrade, the BTB announced its participation in the cruise industry’s premier annual business-to-business event in Miami. There will be panel discussions and networking opportunities between cruise executives: from ports and destinations to entertainment, hotel operations, environment and health, safety and security, and more. This year’s conference celebrates resilience, highlighting collaborative industry efforts across sectors to create a safer and more innovative cruise experience suited to ever-changing times. But here at home, one of the plans to develop cruise tourism is a docking facility, which will allow major lines to call at Belize. Tillett spoke of the urgency of this.

Evan Tillett, Director of Tourism, Belize Tourism Board: “One of the key things in cruise tourism is having a berthing facility. The ships that are being built now are bigger ships and having a tender port creates a lot of logistical issues so we really need a port berth facility in Belize if we are going to continue to increase the number of cruise tourists and if we don’t get that we will end up losing numbers because the bigger vessels will bypass our ports, so it is essential that we have a mooring facility in this country as soon as possible.

Tillett also addressed concerns that often small independent operators are left out of the equation. He assured these entrepreneurs that the council will continue to engage and provide opportunities for everyone.

Evan Tillett, Director of Tourism, Belize Tourism Board: “The BTB is the regulator of the industry, I come back to that. In terms of ensuring fairness within the industry, we will do everything in our power to achieve that. Having a docking facility doesn’t really change the dynamics of the tour operator side of the business. What it does if you have a product that you can take to cruise lines and sell to cruise lines, you can become an entrepreneur. If not and you want to be an independent operator, the opportunity is also there, but whoever the operator is, they control their own destiny in terms of operating within the tourism industry of cruise. The BTB will continue to regulate, ensure fairness and ensure that the rules of the game are level playing field and that is what we will do.

According to the most recent statistics from the BTB, cruise ship arrivals to Belize were just over 58,000 people, 70% of whom docked at Fort Street Tourism Village. Most cruise passengers visited Mayan temples, did city tours, and did cave tubing, snorkeling, and airboat rides. Most also visited Belize City, Jaguar Paw, Altun Ha, Lamanai and Shark Ray Alley.

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