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24 Jun 2016

BY Andrew Doherty


Discover Belize: a small country that's big on flora and fauna

From jaguar reserves to blooming barrier reefs - Andrew Doherty highlights why your clients should visit Belize 


Imagine brushing up against a nurse shark while diving in a multi-coloured reef, or sipping rum from a coconut on pristine white sounds.


With a sub-tropical climate, beaches, coral reefs and jungle to adventure in, Belize should place highly on anybody’s wish lists.


I chatted with Trudi Pearce, head advisor to the Belize Tourist Board for European activity, in London at Belize’s first UK trade event, where she shared the tourism strategy with me.


“We have launched a digital campaign titled Discover Belize and we are engaging in joint marketing with tour operators. We will also have online agent training early next year and we aim to increase the number of operators selling Belize,” Pearce said.


The evening saw UK operators such as Cox & Kings and members of Belize’s High Commission in attendance, including Perla Perdomo, the high commissioner.


In 2015 Belize welcomed 12,650 UK visitors, an 11.4% increase on 2014.


Almost one third of European tourists were from the UK, making it the largest source market in Europe.


Between January and April this year, 4,900 Britons have travelled to Belize.


With its entry into the UK market, the tourist board is aiming at pushing these numbers higher.


Currently there are only indirect flights to Belize from the UK; travellers can fly via Cancun, Atlanta or Houston.


British citizens do not require a visa for entering the country and language barriers should not be an issue.


“A huge draw for the Brits is that Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the first language. Agents selling Belize are not always aware of this,” she added.


Sustainability and eco-friendly tourism is high on the agenda.


The Belize Barrier Reef became a Unesco site in 1996 and 60% of the country’s landmass and water is in protected reserves.


“The people are truly committed to responsible tourism. We’re also home to the only jaguar reserve in the world,” Pearce added.


Visitors can also expect a less crowded experience in Belize, which has a leaning towards smaller, boutique hotels, such as the intimate 18-room Maruba Resort.


Properties such as the 102-room Radisson Fort George Hotel and the 160-room Princess Hotel & Casino are considered “big” in Belize.


Chain-free food establishments are another key selling point, with Mexican, Chinese, and Creolian foods to choose from. Perdomo summarised the draw for UK visitors.


“Belize is perfect for both foodies and sun-seekers,” she said. “It’s a little Caribbean beat in the heart of Latin America.”

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