Cultural Tourism, allows for visitors to a country to be engulfed and enriched through the region's culture, lifestyle, history of the people, their art, architecture, religion(s), and other elements that helped shape their way of life. This sector is identified as a priority product and key tourist attractor within the National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan of Belize. The Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) and Beltraide partnered to create a Cultural Tourism Training Workshop and its guide called, ‘Belize: Cultural Tourism Development: A Handbook for Community Champions, How to develop, promote and run your cultural tourism business.’ These trainings are to stimulate the development of cultural tourism in Belize, particularly in some of the emerging destinations.
May 3rd to May 11th, 2012, over 60 persons participated in the three pilot session of the interactive Cultural Tourism Training Workshop, provided to micro cultural tourism businesses in Belize City, the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts. In addition, eleven of BTB’s trainers were trained in facilitating future sessions of the Cultural Tourism Training Workshop. “The training was enriching and valuable, the trainers shared their knowledge and techniques in how to present and teach our young local entrepreneurs how to promote their products locally and in foreign markets,” said local trainee facilitator Javier Gutierrez.
The training program focused on the business of cultural tourism and gave the participants knowledge and skills to help them develop, promote and run their cultural tourism business. It covered several key topics – Business Planning and Management, Product Development, Networking, Marketing, Hospitality/Customer Service and sustainable practice. The program assisted participants in understanding the cultural tourism sector and customer, and included an interactive product development component.
Judy Karwacki of Small Planet Consulting and Cheryl Chapman of the Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia (AtBC), the lead facilitators of the training stated that “The Cultural Tourism Industry provides opportunities for individuals and communities to celebrate and share their stories with the world, in a mutually respectful and sustainable way. Sharing our stories, experiences and knowledge to work with the Ministry of Tourism and its partners to develop the Cultural Tourism Handbook and facilitate the three pilot workshops, on behalf of the Sustainable Tourism Program, it was an honor.”