Pay Attention, Belize! Travel trends for 2015

Local food in Burrell Boom
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I don’t spend as much time researching travel behaviours as I once did when I was completely involved in the Belize tourism industry but I have not stopped being conscious of how travel is changing and where things are heading. I’ve been able to single out a few trends that will be king in 2015 and from all these trends, below I will be sharing six that I believe Belize tourism stakeholders can easily take advantage of.

1. Small guys will beat big guys

It has never been a better time in history to be a small business that offers a unique product. Customers are giving up on faceless corporations in favor of supporting local businesses that cater to their needs. This means that travelers will prefer to stay at guest houses where they can meet and interact with the owners. And the few workers are usually family members or close friends. You can see this play out with the war for the consumer that is currently happening with big beer corporations and craft beer in North America.

2. Will travel for food

Travelers are increasingly booking trips that revolve around food and I estimate that from 2015 – 2020 it will skyrocket. More and more people are becoming ok with calling themselves foodies and forming social circles because of food events. A few years ago when I ate at restaurants I would take photos of my food and my girlfriend would get upset – “who does that?”, she would say. Nowadays it’s a very common thing to do with tons of websites and apps available for that. How will Belize take advantage of culinary tourism?

3. Fancy restaurants will be empty

Nowadays most major cities offer cuisines from all over the world. On date night, everyone visits the hippest new joint that makes Mexican tacos with a twist. They pay an arm and a leg to dine there; travelers sure won’t spend as much money when they are traveling in Mexico – they will seek the most authentic experience possible. Dining at someone’s private home or the shabby food spot where all the locals go – what’s the point of traveling if you’re not experiencing new things.

4. Vacation rentals vs hotels

With every year that passes, it is more apparent how serious of a threat vacation rentals are to the hotel industry. With the rise of websites such as Airbnb and Vrbo, travelers are becoming more informed and comfortable booking private homes over expensive hotels. And saving on accommodations isn’t the only factor guests are considering; they also love the feeling of staying as a local.

5. Internet is a must

Everyone pretty much can’t live without Internet. This isn’t anything new but what I’m trying to say is that fast, reliable and preferably free Wi-Fi should be available to guests 24/7. Even if travelers make a conscious effort to unplug during a vacation, they need to have the satisfaction that if there is an emergency, they will be able to immediately get connected.

6. Local travel is on the rise

More people are realizing that traveling within their country or region is as much fun as going to far way places. In my opinion this type of travel has risen due to social media – people are now more connected and can easily find information online. One key social network is Instagram, friends and strangers post beautiful photos of their travels and entice others to want to have similar experiences. By following key hashtags you have access to seeing hidden gems and interesting events that are happening nearby. And how does this pertain to Belize? Locally: Tom, Dick and Harry go dah Costa Maya. Regionally: I’ve noticed a significant increase of Mexican and Guatemala travelers visiting Belize.

Any questions? Comment below or send me an email if you would like me to evaluate your business.



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  1. Erin De Santiago says

    I think you contradict yourself in some respects with the culinary tourism and fancy restaurants being empty. Nice restaurants are a huge part of culinary tourism and with the World's Best list now in Latin America, there is an even bigger focus in Latin America on that. All trends on culinary tourism point the opposite direction based on the meetings and sessions I had at WTM in London. Expounding on what I wrote on AT's FB page, it's funny you bring up Mexico as the exact opposite is happening. Nicer restaurants are garnering more attention and Mexico City is home to 3 of the top 10 spots on the very prestigious San Pellegrino's 50 Best Restaurants in Latin America. These restaurants are booked solid and they are providing an authentic and a new experience to diners looking to take Mexican food up a notch. That's not to say they won't be seeking out the most local cheap eats the next day. That is what culinary tourism is really about — it's the whole experience, not just street food or high-end.

    Agritourism and pop ups are big right now — and many of those are headed up by some of these chefs that run the fancy restaurants. What we call Private Kitchens have been booming in other parts of the world for several years now — which equate to dining in a private home. A number of these are even harder to get in. Those of us who are culinary travelers, we travel for the whole experience — the street market, the home cooked meal, and the award-winning chef that elevates a dining experience utilizing all the senses — that is what much of the expensive meals are about. Dining is an art and the more senses you utilize, the more of a learning experience it is. That is why I love molecular gastronomy and am fascinated by the science behind it. I just had the honor to dine at one of Hong Kong's most awarded restaurants that features Cantonese cuisine with a molecular twist and it was enlightening and fascinating….and 1K US a couple with wine pairing. And he's booked solid for months.

    What truly is a big trend for 2015 that Belize should be taking note on is cooking classes. Over 30% of people are booking travel according to statistics for destinations that offer a variety of cooking classes. Belize is definitely lacking in this area and that is what I really think a focus should be for this year.

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