ANTIGUA, Guatemala – As part of our coverage of the Centro America Travel Market Guatemala, Travel Agent sat down with Karina Cunil, marketing officer for the Belize Tourism Board, and learned that Royal Caribbean and Carnival are expected to dramatically increase calls to Belize following the completion of the Fort George Tourism Zone initiative.
The initiative is expected to be complete in the next two years. And calls by the two cruise lines has already increased in the last year with both lines nearly doubling its visits to Belize. Royal Caribbean and Carnival both went from six calls per week to 11 calls per week within the last year.
“The cruise industry is quickly becoming a bigger part of Belize tourism,” she says. “And once the Fort George project is complete, we expect it to get even bigger.”
The Fort Street Tourism Village is a private area that currently services cruise ship passengers. The new Fort George Tourism Zone will be a public area running through several public streets outside of the current tourism village and features restaurants, department stores, shops, local artists and craft vendors for tourists.
The first phase of this zone, which will launch this high season, will create a dispatch rotation system for local tour operators within the Fort George Tourism Zone. This establishment will provide a fair and balanced way of promoting all local tour operations, while offering travelers with a centralized location for booking tours and also helping to create an environment that offers visitors a firsthand opportunity to experience the destination.
The two-year capacity-building effort will focus on operators and associations within the Fort George Tourism Zone and aims to help position them to be among the best in the entire region.
In 2009, 705,219 cruise passengers traveled to Belize, resulting in more than an 18-percent increase from 2008. In 2009, for the first time since 2004, there was an increase (3.6 percent) in calls into Belize.