BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – As part of our ongoing coverage of the CTO Leadership Strategy Conference, Travel Agent attended a Belize Tourism Board press conference Saturday morning and learned that Belize has seen a 17 percent increase in travel within the cruise sector from this time last year and will create a new tourism zone to accommodate the influx of cruise passengers.
The Fort George Tourism Zone initiative will be complete in the next two years, says Director of Tourism Seleni Matus. The zone will be in the immediate vicinity of the Fort Street Tourism Village in Belize City.
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, says Matus.
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.