How To Belize

with Caroline Booth

Karen Pike & Deborah Gilharry, Belize Tourist Board

Ted Tejada, Best Western Biltmore PLaza Hotel

Holly Holbrook, Belcampo Belize

Recently Toronto had the opportunity to play host to a lovely group of reps from Belize who descended on our chilly nation with warm tidings on how to Be.

Be there:

Toronto  was the last stop of a 3 city Canadian tour where 60 agents gathered at the Novotel Hotel last week for an opportunity to chat with suppliers and learn about this small but fascinating Central American country. According to Karen Pike, Director Marketing & Industry Relations for the Tourist Board, the majority of their visitors come from the U.S, with the UK and Canada rounding out the 2nd and 3rd top spots. A show of hands during the presentation portion of the evening revealed that about half of the attendees had visited Belize, and more had already sent clients there. Although there are currently no direct flights from Canada, connecting flights leave daily from many North  American cities including Newark, Chicago and Miami to name a few, making getting there easy.   

Be adventurous:
Getting around while in the country is easy too. In response to one agents inquiry about excursion arrangements, Ted Tejada, general manager Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel suggested a less structured approach. “Canadians like to be organized and have everything planned before they go somewhere. What I suggest is to go there and rent a car. Drive around on your own and see what you’d like to do.” The roads are safe and with just 4 major highways (running in all 4 cardinal directions), any route will lead to adventure.

Be wild:
In the West visitors can explore impressive caving systems, rivers, waterfalls, ancient Maya archaeological sites and lush jungles. Further down in the Southeast is Cockscomb basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the world’s only jaguar preserve. On the East coast diving and marine enthusiasts can swim with exotic sea life along the Western Hemisphere's largest barrier reef which earned World Heritage designation in 1996. 

Be cultural:
The Northern and Southern regions offer equally interesting  opportunities as well thanks to the rich mix of culture from the Mestizo, Maya, Garifuna, East Indians and Chinese. For an immersive experience, Deborah Gilharry, the Tourist Board‘s Senior Travel Trade Officer suggests trying out the Maya Homestay Program where visitors stay with a Mayan family and participate in daily lifestyle activities, including farming and learning to make various traditional foods such as chocolate and Caldo (pork stew).

Be at pampered:
Regardless of where visitors stay when visiting Belize, the accommodations available are typically boutique style rather than the big chains and all inclusives. One such boutique is Belcampo Lodge & Farm that specializes in sustainable food production and agri-tourism. With just 16 private suites, staying here is a truly cozy experience. Book early though as this popular spot fills up quickly for months at a time.

Be anytime:
And when is the best time to go? “All year round,” says Gilharry with a smile. “It really depends on what your clients want.” Those looking for deals can certainly find them during low season from June to November. The rains come down during this time as well but should not be a deterrent. "It will rain a bit, but the sun comes right back out again." The country has also been fortunate to have not been hit by any hurricanes in the past several decades. 

Gilharry concluded the evening by encouraging agents to become specialists. How? 

The process is easy and the benefits are many, such as access to fams and a tone of useful marketing tools to help sell Belize.

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