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Belize Update

March 5, 2007 By: Mark Rogers Travel Agent

New resorts, dolphin encounters and airport expansion

Belize has always had immense appeal for divers and nature lovers. As the tourism product continues to develop, the country's appeal is widening. A room at Mata Chica in Belize

"Resorts in Belize are offering expanded
amenities and spas," says Therese Rath, director of marketing for the
Belize Tourism Board. "We're trying to capture the luxury market—that can
only help the other markets grow."

There was quite a stir in 2005, when Leonardo DiCaprio
plunked down $1.75 million for Blackadore Caye, a 104-acre island off the coast
of Belize.
There was talk of DiCaprio planning to build an eco-resort within a 25-minute
boat ride to the Belize Barrier Reef. At present, there's been little activity,
although the marquee value DiCaprio would bring to the island is highly
anticipated by Belize's
tourism players. Belize
Dolphin Encounters

In 2006, Belize
welcomed more than 150,000 U.S.
visitors, a 4.5 percent increase over this past year. The country is currently
receiving 80 percent of its arrivals from the U.S.,
primarily east of the Mississippi.

is a growing market for us," says Rath. "There's an increased
awareness of Belize,
and direct flights from the west coast on American, Continental and Taca have
been a big help."

Belize's Philip Goldson International Airport
is currently undergoing a major expansion that will lengthen the runway, expand
the apron and enlarge the terminal building. Construction on the Airport
Development Project is expected to be completed by mid 2007.

When you ask Rath about Belize's attractions, she takes a
deep breath and answers in one long, run-on sentence: "What we have is
authentic English-speaking Caribbean flavor, security and comfort, Central
American culture, a barrier reef, three atolls, the Blue Hole, whale sharks,
one thousand Mayan sites and ruins—from unexcavated to restored, the largest
cave system in Central America, the first jaguar preserve, and ten different
cultures, which include Mayan, Colonial, Mexican, East Indian, Garifuna,
Chinese, former slaves and Mennonites."

Resort News Mata Chica, a 14-villa beach resort on Ambergris
Caye, recently completed an upgrade, adding such amenities as free wireless
Internet service, iPod-Bose music systems in each guest room, and iPod usage
during a guest's stay. The resort also upgraded its bar and lounge area.

Mata Chica has introduced all-inclusive packages, including
dive, yoga and fishing packages.

The beach front casitas give guests the best view of the Caribbean Sea and the Belize Barrier Reef. Rates start at
$205 per night.

Agents may contact the travel agent liaison, Burga Pattinson
at [email protected].

Tourism Board: 800-624-0686,

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