The BTB holds its first Elevate Training Expo
The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) has launched a project seeking to build the Belizean brand of excellent service. Today the BTB held the first annual Elevate Training Expo in Belize City. The two-day event is focused on providing expert training in various areas of service to stakeholders in the tourism industry. Vejea Alvarez tells us more.
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Over two hundred, bartenders, waiters, tour guides, and other players in the tourism industry are hoping to improve the un-Belizeable experience they provide. The tourism stakeholders are participating in BTB’s first annual Elevate Training Expo which is a part of its national “Elevate” training program. Participants of the two-day event are receiving professional training in twenty-one areas of service to enhance their skill sets. Abil Castaneda, Director of Cruise Quality Management and Capacity Development, says that the initiative is of utmost importance, particularly in the post-pandemic era.
Abil Castaneda, Director of Cruise Quality Management and Capacity Development: “Training is always a very important part of product development and when the current administration came in what’s one of the main impetus, one of the main things that they wanted to ensure that we are promoting and building upon. We have done some substantial investments. We have I think the training budget before was around $20,000 so we are spending almost close to about $1,000,000 in different training initiatives and that is because coming out of COVID we need to make sure that our human resources are up to par. We have a lot of new people coming in after COVID working in the industry that needs training, we have a very aggressive tour guide training program right now over 400 new tour guides this year we have trained so far and so we are doing what we need to do to make sure that the industry is ready so that when we are at full capacity that we have the people with the skills and know-how of how to go ahead.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The event is being held in partnership with Florida International University. The institution sent a team of lecturers and trainers with expertise and knowledge in the tourism sector. One of them was Alec Dalton, who previously worked with global brands such as Disney and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. He explained that the training courses seek to build on the Belizean brand of excellent service and warm hospitality.
Alec Dalton, Trainer:“Well I think it even goes further beyond providing that great feeling, providing warm service and hospitality whether we are in a hotel, the restaurant or other aspects of the tourism business. Look, over 50% of Belize’s GDP is derived from tourism this is such an important part of the economy of this great country and in order to sustain that, to keep it growing and to ensure that more and more people come and visit Belize and appreciate your hospitality training like this is gonna be critical to the continued success and for the development of the Belizean people.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The participants were able to register for particular courses in various areas such as storytelling, mixology, hotel management, food and beverage management, and much more.
Abil Castaneda, Director of Cruise Quality Management and Capacity Development: “We have for instance training on sommelier which is wine mastery services so we have people from the food and bev industry coming, from restaurants hotels learning how to become wine masters sommeliers. We have training for tour guides that we are doing our very first training to specialize tour guides into a specific area of skills and this birding the Belize Audubon Society is leading that training for us. For those of that work at attractions our rangers, those that work at NICH, those that work at the NGOs that manage our natural attractions we are also providing a training on defense tactics for their rangers so that they can maintain security and safety at the sites as well. We are also having Beltraide through the various entities like BTECH and SBDC providing training on how to present yourself, how to sell, how to upsell, how to use technology and customer service.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Dalton added that initiatives like this one allow stakeholders to come together and discuss how to improve the overall experience provided to both foreign and local tourists.
Alec Dalton, Trainer: “Well I think one of the greatest strengths of hospitality and tourism in general is simply the ability to connect people with one another, to take people from all over the world and even from here within Belize and make sure that they feel welcome and at home and at the same time that can be really challenging because we are all humans at the end of the day and that’s where training like this comes into play it helps you to identify and solve problems it helps you to strengthen relationships between people and make sure that those emotional ties and those stories remain strong wherever people are going back to in the world.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Tourism, Nicole Solano, added that the expo also aimed to improve how Belize’s natural resources, which play a huge role in the country’s tourism brand, can be better managed.
Nicole Solano, CEO, Ministry of Tourism: “The natural resources are really the main foundation of our tourism product so people come here to enjoy that, they come here to enjoy our Barrier Reef, they come here to enjoy our natural forests and reserves but in order to do that they have to have tour guides and tour operators and the service that’s provided is really what makes memorable experiences for our travelers so a training like today really does give them the tools to elevate their competency and give them the skills that they need in order to provide a higher level of service and delight the guests. That’s what it’s all about.”