Face to face: Karen Bevans, director of Tourism at the Belize Tourism Board

Why is the UK an important market for Belize? 

Karen Bevans
Karen Bevans

The UK is the fastest growing and the largest market in Europe for Belize (+11.9%), holding an impressive 31% market share, so it goes without saying that it’s important for us to be present there. We are also the only English speaking country in the Central American region, and our links to Britain remain extremely strong, having gained independence in 1981.

In addition, adventure travel from the UK is growing at an average rate of 65% and Belize is teeming with adventurous experiences. With some more traditional holiday destinations now being perceived as unsafe or unstable, British tourists are looking elsewhere for travel inspiration and we can offer them a viable alternative.

What does the destination offer that appeals to British travellers?

Belize has a wonderful mix of cultures, eco-systems and adventures as well as a plethora of different ethnicities, with varying traditions, languages and foods, all of which contribute to making us unique and special. We know British travellers always seek something a bit different, and we think Belize offers them that.

We’re also home to an incredible array of eco-systems: from jungles full of howler monkeys, toucans, jaguars and other wild animals, through to the world’s second largest barrier reef, where visitors can dive or snorkel with reef sharks and shark whales, or simply relax on the beach, drink in hand, on one of the hundreds of tiny islands.  Belize also has hundreds of ancient Mayan Temples scattered across the country, as well as the largest underwater cave system in Central America.  For the adventurous, hiking, tubing and zip-lining through the rainforest are all easy to access for travellers with all levels of fitness.

Although located in Central American (bordered by Mexico and Guatemala), we are English-speaking, taking away the language barrier that can be a concern.

British travellers are increasingly concerned about sustainability and I believe our biggest selling point is that we are committed to protecting our beautiful country: our tourism strategy goes in hand with our sustainability plans and we are working hard to protect the habitats and eco-systems we are proud to be home to. This translates through to every aspect of travel in Belize, from our incredible eco-lodges, to the wildlife sanctuaries and adventurous activities you can participate in, through to the seasonal fish that is served – we may be home to delicious lobster, but you’ll only find it in season in Belize!

What’s your strategy for developing more UK tourism to Belize?

Our campaign will be aimed both at consumers and the trade with the ultimate aim of increasing awareness of the destination. We will be targeting consumers through the media with the press team pushing out news stories and generating coverage through press trips.  We will be also rolling out a digital advertising campaign in the coming weeks and to highlight our sustainability credentials, and Belize has also sponsored the Responsible Travel Guide. We will be working on integrated marketing and affinity marketing campaigns too.

When it comes to targeting the trade, Belize has sponsored the World Responsible Tourism Awards, and we will also be working on co-op marketing with tour operators, as well as a product development trip to Belize in the coming months.

How are you working with the travel trade (airlines, operators and agents) to make this happen?

Our first step has been to carry out an extensive market research survey which will inform our long term strategy with regards to target markets and demographics. We will be sharing this information with the travel trade to help them as they sell the destination and will also be sending the travel trade a regular newsletter with news from Belize such as events, new tours and hotel openings.

In addition to this, we have some co-operative marketing funds available and will be welcoming proposals from tour operators should they want to work with us. Later this year we will also be holding a product development trip, and have places available.

What training do you/will you offer agents to help them sell Belize?

We’re keen to make sure agents have as much information and knowledge at their fingertips, and with that in mind, we will be offering in-store training, as well as Online Travel Training. We will also be providing collateral for them to use, and we are also looking into the option of trade association participation.

 

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