A Case for Major Hotel Chains in Belize

The advent of Trumpism has led to the rise of protectionism in the US. Put America first and ONLY support American businesses they say.

Mahogany Bay Resort, Ambergris Caye

The Great House, Mahogany Bay Resort

In policy terms, I have seen this in Belize for quite a while. For many years, many of Bowen and Bowen’s products have had an exclusive monopoly in Belize. I remember when I was a kid, Novelo’s distributors, who had distributed Pepsi products for many years, had to close its distribution store because their license was revoked. This, of course, alluded to Sir Barry Bowen significant political clout – influence that has made Bowen and Bowen very successful.

Hilton Worldwide

Last year, Mahogany Bay Resort in Ambergris Caye became part of Curio – A Collection by Hilton Worldwide. With this announcement, someone I know posted on their facebook wall how disgusted they were that Belize was getting a major hotel chain. The post got a lot of attention with many Belizeans supporting the position and making comments like hotel chains will damage Belize’s tourism product, we don’t want Belize to become Cancun, and only Belizeans should own tourism businesses. The last part of that statement is something that Belizeans have been increasingly clamoring for. I understand their frustration since some foreign companies just take the profits away and don’t invest in the community, but to say that only Belizeans should own tourism businesses is very naive.

Things are never black and white

Belize’s tourism industry would not be where it is without the help of expats who have made Belize their home. Some examples include Marty Casado, who introduced the world to Belize when he created one of the first Belize travel websites; Mick and Lucy Fleming, who pioneered ecotourism in Belize; Jerry McDermott, who brought scuba diving to Belize; and Leif and Denver, who ventured beyond where many Belizeans have and set up a sea kayaking outpost in Glovers Reef.

Yes, small businesses by expats are not in the same boat as multinational corporations. However, my point is that innovation often comes from outside, which is especially the case for developing countries. It is proven that foreign companies increase the productivity of domestic businesses, as new ideas and management techniques are introduced. Also, the success of new companies lures others to enter the market and/ or incentivizes old businesses to innovate and develop new products and services (economics 101).

Getting back to the topic of Mahogany Bay Resort, I propose that its introduction is a good thing. Belize has been battling with slow growth in overnight tourism and a major hotel chain will help with this. Hilton Worldwide has the knowledge, experience, and extensive networks to tap into new markets and customers that Belize as a whole country has not been able to do. And best of all, they have enough capital to pursue the above-mentioned activities!

Naturally, there will be challenges that come with Belize having major hotel chains, but if I have made one thing clear, I hope it’s that clamoring for protectionism isn’t the solution.

About Lorenzo Gonzalez

Lorenzo Gonzalez is the founder of Belizeadventure.ca, a resource for travel information on Belize. He enjoys traveling, social media and Paranda music. Contact him at lorenzo [at] belizeadventure.ca. Learn more...

2 Responses to A Case for Major Hotel Chains in Belize

  1. Lee and Mike April 27, 2017 at 9:06 AM #

    Maybe good news, bad news. Belize has a charm that isn’t found too many other places anymore and we love it that way. Tourism is good, but we certainly don’t want it to be Cancun or any of those overpriced cookie cutter vacation destinations. Belize has so much to offer with its natural resources and lovely people that it should be promoted and loved, but without exploitation.

    • Lorenzo Gonzalez April 27, 2017 at 3:43 PM #

      Agreed, Lee and Mike. You described what makes Belize unique and whoever is creating a new hotel/ tour operator would know this once they do market research. TBH, rationally speaking, even if Belize attempted to become similar to Cancun, economies of scale would not permit it. Cancun’s airport receives approximately 25 million passengers a year and Belize’s airport receives approximately 500,000.