Posted: Tuesday, June 20, 2017. 11:35 am CST.
By Richard Harrison: “The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) was formed on April 26, 1985 as a broad-based tourism umbrella organization, BTIA sought to bring together tourism related interests to meet the challenges of a dynamic and growing tourism industry in Belize.
In the early 1980’s tourism was of relatively little importance in Belize. Nonetheless, it was an evolving industry that was impacting various sectors. A group of individuals foresaw the importance of the industry and anticipated the need for a medium through which tourism concerns could be voiced. This group, lead by the late Mrs. Jean Shaw, conceived the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA). The association was incorporated under the laws of Belize in 1989 and has become one of Belize’s largest non-profit organizations, boasting some 600 members from Belize’s six districts. In 2006 the organization became registered under the Revised 2000 NGO Act, Chapter 315 of the Laws of Belize.
Today, the association has representation on almost every government, legislative, advisory, consultative and licensing committee, which in itself is proof of its continued commitment to national development. BTIA also plays an important role in the linkage of the private and public sectors. As a direct consequence of BTIA’s initiatives, in particular its advocacy efforts, tourism has become the fastest growing industry and has been pushed to the forefront of government’s priorities” ~ BTIA website
It would appear that, after 32 years of existence, the BTIA still represents only a membership of tourism property owners/operators…..600 members being only a small percentage of the tourism actors in Belize.
“The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was BZD501.5mn (15.0% of total GDP) in 2014, and is forecast to fall by 0.4% in 2015, and to rise by 3.7% pa, from 2015-2025, to BZD720.1mn (15.9% of total GDP) in 2025.
The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was BZD1,311.8mn (39.2% of GDP) in 2014, and is forecast to rise by 0.6% in 2015, and to rise by 4.0% pa to BZD1,944.9mn (42.8% of GDP) in 2025.
In 2014 Travel & Tourism directly supported 18,000 jobs (13.4% of total employment). This is expected to rise by 1.2% in 2015 and rise by 4.4% pa to 28,000 jobs (14.2% of total employment) in 2025.
In 2014, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by the industry, was 35.3% of total employment (48,000 jobs). This is expected to rise by 2.2% in 2015 to 49,000 jobs and rise by 4.5% pa to 77,000 jobs in 2025 (38.7% of total)
Visitor exports generated BZD775.1mn (37.8% of total exports) in 2014. This is forecast to fall by 0.9% in 2015, and grow by 3.8% pa, from 2015-2025, to BZD1,117.4mn in 2025 (42.3% of total).
Travel & Tourism investment in 2014 was BZD167.2mn, or 27.3% of total investment. It should rise by 6.1% in 2015, and rise by 5.3% pa over the next ten years to BZD296.2mn in 2025 (34.9%
In absolute market size Belize ranked 149 out of 184 countries…so it is a drop in the bucket of world tourism.
Belize ranked 13 our of 184 in tourism contribution to GDP, which reflects a market that is relatively heavily dependent on tourism.
It ranked 165 out of 184 in terms of growth….so it is growing rather slowly relative to other tourism markets.
It is ranked 100 out of 184 in terms of long-term growth prospects.
So as to compare absolute value of tourism markets, Mexico tourism market generates US$86.7 billion annually, Dominican Republic US$3.1 billion, Cuba US$2 billion, Bahamas US$1.7 billion, Jamaica US$1.2 billion, Trinidad and Tobago US$0.8 billion, Barbados US$ 0.5 billion and Belize US$0.3 billion.” ~ World Travel & Tourism Council BELIZE Economic Impact 2015.
The role of the BTIA is mostly advocacy, making recommendations, peddling influence….with policy markers and their budgeted executives at the Belize Tourism Board (BTB).
The less power an organization is perceived to have….the less influence their advocacy and recommendations will have.
There is recent evidence that their power and influence was not enough to get the Government of Belize to listen to their cries and modify their provisions for significant tax increases implemented in the national budget, and denounced by the BTIA.
There are other important concerns raised by the BTIA to which the Government has given little to no attention.
With an employee base of between 25,000 and 50,000, or around 13-25% of the Belize work force, one would have to speculate as to why the BTIA has not sought to include tourism workers in their representation…and to organize them into a political force to recon with.
The fact that such a large percentage of Belizean workers are not organized is not good for them, nor for Belizean workers as a whole.
Of course, the organization of tourism workers can and will have effects internal to the industry…as well as external.
Overall, it is my opinion that such an organized force would be good for the tourism industry…and for Belize.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
This article was written by Richard Harrison, Belizean investor in production and services businesses in Belize. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration degree from Lancaster University.
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