B.O.O.M., B.O.O.M., BANG?

B.O.O.M., B.O.O.M., BANG?

Does three B.O.O. M.s equal one bang? If we are talking about the Belize Tourism Board’s (BTB) annual Building On Our Momentum Forum, it most certainly does. Last Thursday the BTB hosted its annual B.O.O.M. signature event for the third consecutive year. Hoteliers, tour operators, and tourism partners were in attendance at the Best Western Plus Belize Biltmore Plaza. There were presentations from BTB’s PR agencies, TM Americas, Development Counselors International (DCI), and the Zimmerman Agency. Plenty of new insights were discussed and while some market updates were anticipated, others were definitely a bit more stirring. For example, it was not so surprising to hear that social media is now the number one source of influence for travel and AI is becoming all the more intertwined with vacation planning. Attendees learned that the number one reason why people want to travel in 2024 is to rest and recharge (wellness), sober travel is a real market trend, astro-tourism (star gazing) is developing as a subcategory of sustainable ecotourism, the demand for solo travel is growing, and numbers shows that Millennials and Gen Z are the most willing to spend on traveling over other things. Okay, maybe that last one is not so surprising either. The point is that information is power and the key to making strategic business decisions. To emphasize that point, there were also updates from the director of BTB’s Industry Development about current and future local projects. The Chief Tourism Officer at the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations also informed attendees of revisions to Belize’s National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan (NSTMP). Overall, the presentations on international trends and local objectives offered a holistic overview of what is happening in the global tourism market and where Belize finds itself based on its unique competitive advantage.

Director of BTB’s Marketing & Communications department, Mrs. Michelle Bowers-Flowers, pointed to that advantage as she reiterated that “sustainability still reigns supreme”. If there were any second guessing about it, attendees were encouraged to put those doubts away because sustainability is neither fad nor trend- it is fact. According to the president and founder of Zimmerman Agency, Mr. Curtis Zimmerman, in 2024, 43% of people say that they are influenced by sustainability when considering travel, as oppose to 24% back in 2022. As we know, Belize’s tourism product was forged out of the principles of sustainability.  As a member of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance and host of the 2024 World Sustainable Travel and Hospitality Awards, we could boldly say that we have always been ahead of that particular market development. And, we are planning to stay ahead with new sustainability and cultural projects for reforestation programmes, mangrove rehabilitation, sargassum containment initiatives, water conservation campaigns, a sound diplomacy music strategy, and other bond projects targeting specific areas in each district. Belize and sustainability go together like ‘eco’ goes with ‘friendly’ and ‘biological’ goes with ‘diversity’. If there is one main take away from this year’s forum, it is that “vacations reveal what people choose to do, not what they want to do” and people are choosing and wanting more sustainability when they travel.

In 2022, BTB’s Grab Life campaign had positioned Belize as an adventure’s paradise. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the campaign moved forward offering Belize as a destination where travellers could seek the clarity and authenticity they were looking for.  That year, the forum offered an update on where we were going as an industry. This year the presentations focused on where everyone is going and why. There have been three B.O.O.M.s so far and we consider that a major bang!

Chat again later.

Jasmine Anderson

For the Belize Tourism Board