International Tourism in Belize – As a second year Tourism Management student I was excited to gain a new hands on learning experience in our international studies trip to Belize. In terms of the quality of the tourism product, and especially our on the ground partners, Island Expeditions, my expectations were exceeded.
On our second day of the trip one of the owners and founders of Island Expeditions, Denver, began the day with some education on our location. We discussed some of the history of Belize and Glovers Reef (where we were currently on an Island an hour and half off the coast). Belize is a country with very diverse culture such as Kreole, Garifina, Mayan descendants and people from Asia. Denver explained that he has 3 of the 4 main cultures in the country represented within our guide staff and that we would come to understand which one belonged to which culture. This was a value added feature of this company that gave me a much better insight into the people and culture in Belize through getting to know each of our incredible guides.
During the second day we spent time with the guides on two activity sessions, introducing us to wet entries/exits into sea kayaks and snorkeling. Our guides explained the proper techniques based on their high level of training and experience. Our afternoon venture involved kayaking out as a group to a coral reef patch to snorkel with our guides. This was exciting for me as a new experience and I got the chance to see four eyed butterfly fish, damsel fish, groupers and barracudas! One of the take-aways for me was the educational piece as our guides did not want us to come away from the experience saying that we saw a blue fish, a yellow one, but encouraged us and taught us the names of different species. This was an important piece of the trip for me as it helped us to understand the environment that we were trying to protect through sustainability at the basecamp.
The most important learning that I took away from this trip from a tourism perspective is how to represent your culture and environment to tourists and make them feel a connection through these things. This is what will bring tourists back, the values of your company will show through to tourists and treating your staff well will pay off. I am more employable for the skills that I have gained in experiencing best practices in Belize from our partner, Island Expeditions. I have the knowledge of ways that I can be a better tour guide, enhance any guest’s experience, and manage staff more efficiently for the values of a company.
Tourism Management Student
NSCC Kingstec Campus