Training Needs Assessment for the Hospitality Industry in Belize

Vincent Palacio


About the Tourism Training Unit

The Tourism Training Unit is mandated to develop and carry out a range of planning, research and training tasks. In this regard some activity areas of the unit are as follows:

  1. Assessment of training needs throughout the country at entry, staff and management training levels;
  2. Development and implementation of training programs within the district to address the identified needs, using District Tourism Trainers;
  3. Coordination and evaluation of on-going training throughout the country;
  4. Coordination with product development efforts to ensure quality tourism products and services;
  5. Liaison among the various departments of the public sector, non-governmental organizations and others involved in tourism training, strengthening BTIA’s institutional linkages;
  6. Development of national and district level standards and certifications for tourism skills, in coordination with other organizations involved in tourism development;
  7. Increasing the profile of tourism in the country by providing sustainable, quality training in all districts.

In order to facilitate activity one (1), as stated above, a needs assessment was conducted to assess the training needs of the tourism industry in Belize. The main purpose of the analysis was to determine the best initial offering of courses for the Tourism Training Unit. This was accomplished by analyzing the current and future training needs of all sectors of the tourism industry. The assessment is based on a survey of 652 responding entities in the tourism industry.

Objectives of the Report

The objectives of the assessment were to:



652 tourism establishments countrywide completed the needs assessment questionnaires. These establishments were either given a questionnaire at one of the presentations that the Unit made to the different tourism organizations, via email, fax or by individual visits from 15 interviewers who were hired to administer the survey. The questionnaires were divided into three sections. The first section looks at the institution, the second looks at the training needs and the third looks at the staff of the respondents. Sections one and two were mandatory but the third section was optional.

Besides the six districts, Placencia, Caye Caulker and San Pedro were included as separate destinations. Table 1 shows a breakdown of the number of questionnaires that were completed at the nine destinations throughout the country.

Table 1: Answers received by destination

Destination Amount Percent
Belize City 78 12.0
Caye Caulker 102 15.6
Cayo 65 10.0
Corozal 46 7.1
Orange Walk 16 2.5
Placencia 95 14.6
Punta Gorda 61 9.4
San Pedro 74 11.3
Stann Creek 115 17.6
Total 652 100.0

The Establishments

For the purposes of this assessment nine tourism types were used as a breakdown of the different sectors of the industry. Representatives from the Accommodation and Food and Beverage sectors completed almost 65% of the questionnaires with only .3% response from Tourism Education and Training centers. Table 2 shows the number of respondents from the all nine sectors.

Table 2: Type of Organisation

Organisation Amount Percent
Accommodation 268 41.1
Food and Beverage 154 23.6
Adventure Tourism 30 4.6
Transportation 50 7.7
Travel Trade 48 7.4
Events and Conferences 3 .5
Attractions 12 1.8
Tourism Services 11 1.7
Tourism Education and Training 2 .3
other 74 11.3
Total 652 100.0

In an effort to determine the age of tourism establishments in Belize and to see if there is correlation between the age of an operation and the training needs of that establishment the third question ask about the age of the establishment. Fifty-two percent of the responding organizations were five years or less and about 8% were over 21 years old. Table 3 shows the number of years that the establishments have been in existence. Please note that establishments under a year old are labeled as one year and all other responses are rounded up or down if over or below six months.

Table 3: Age of Operation
Years Amount Percent
0-5 years 322 51.6
6-10 years 150 24.0
11-15 years 65 10.4
16-20 years 45 7.2
21< years 42 6.7
Total 624 100.0

The respondents reported employing a total of 3,612 full-time and part-time workers. Table 4 shows the staff profile of the organizations interviewed. This profile includes the employment status and the sex breakdown of the respondents.

Table 4: Staff Profile

Count Percent
Staff by Category
Managerial 836 23
Professional non-managerial 348 10
Skilled/semi-skilled 1517 42
Unskilled 911 25
Staff by full-time/part-time
Full-time permanent 3135 87
Full-time temporary 133 4
Part-time 321 9
Staff by sex
Male 1736 49
Female 1818 51
Table 5 details the type of training that is currently being used by the establishments that were interviewed. By far the most popular mode of training is on the job training. 86% of the respondents use this method to train their staff, 20% use in-house classroom training, 6% use the services of an external trainer, 13% sends their employees to local training institutions and only 5% use outside training institutions.

Table 5: Current Type of training

Type of Training Amount Percent
On the job 562 86
In-house classroom 128 20
Local tourism training institutions 88 14
External trainers 39 6
Regional tourism training institutions 18 3
International tourism training institutions 17 3
The most popular time for conducting training is during the daytime (42% of the respondents) with training on weekend (90%) as the least favorable. The breakdown of this can be seen on Table 6.

Table 6: Preferred time for training

Time of training Amount Percent
During the daytime 276 42
Evenings only 227 35
Weekends only 57 9
At other times 50 8

Table 7 shows preference for the different types of training. This table shows that almost 98% of the respondents stated that it is important to conduct on-the-job training. When asked about the percent of budget that is allocated to training, 63% indicated that they do not budget for training, 28% said they use 1-5% of their budget for training and 9% budgeted 5-10% for training.

Table 7: Importance of Training Type

Important Not important
Type of Training Amount Percent Amount Percent
On the job 593 99 5 1
In-house classroom 411 86 67 14
External trainers 355 76 113 24
Local tourism training institutions 292 69 133 31
Regional tourism training institutions 265 63 155 37
International tourism training institutions 250 59 173 41

Training needs

The main purpose of this assessment was to determine tourism training needs as reported by the industry itself In order to do so, respondents were asked to indicate “all major training needs” among the various categories of staff. This section detail the major training needs identified by the responding organizations.

Tables 8, 9, 10, and 11 show the training needs identified at the Managerial, Professional, Skilled/semi-skilled and Unskilled levels. The first six courses at each level will be developed and offered over the first year of the project. At the Managerial level the courses are Customer Relations, Marketing, Leadership skills, Financial/Accounting, Communications and Human Resources Management. At the Professional level the courses are Customer Relations, Communications, Financial Accounting, a Foreign Language, Computer Skills and Marketing. At the Skilled/semi- skilled level the courses that will be developed are Customer Relations, Communications, Culinary Skills, Computer Literacy, Foreign Language and Financial Accounting. And at the Unskilled level the courses that will be developed are Customer Relations, Communications, House Keeping, Foreign Language, Waitering, and Culinary Skills. Across all four levels there were some common trends, the need for training in Customer Relations and Communications.

Table 8: Training Needs at the Managerial Level

Training Needs Amount Percent
Customer Relations 197 30
Marketing 156 24
Leadership 155 24
Financial/Accounting 121 19
Communications 120 18
Human Resource Management 97 15
Management 90 14
Computer Literacy 87 13
Foreign Language 72 11
Tour Guiding 36 6
Hospitality 21 3
Technical Skills 18 3
Product Knowledge 16 3
Fishing Skills 13 2
House Keeping 13 2
Catering 12 2
Marine Navigating 12 2
Waitering 11 2
First Aid 10 2

Table 9: Needs at the Professional Level

Training Needs Amount Percent
Customer Relations 119 18
Communications 93 14
Financial/Accounting 47 7
Computer Literacy 39 6
Marketing 39 6
Leadership 30 5
Technical Skills 20 3
Driving 18 3
Waitering 17 3
Hospitality 15 2

Table 10: Needs at the Skilled/Semi-Skilled Level

Training Needs Amount Percent
Customer Relations 180 28
Communications 125 19
Culinary Skills 76 12
Computer Literacy 58 9
Foreign Language 56 9
Financial/Accounting 38 6
Leadership Management 33 5
Marketing 31 5
Tour Guiding 31 5
Bar Tending 23 4
Waitering 13 2
Technical Skills 13 2
Marine Navigation 12 2
Driving 11 2

Table 11: Training Needs at the Unskilled Level

Training Needs Amount Percent Training Needs Amount Percent
Customer Relations 130 20 Computer Literacy 18 3
Communications 106 16 Financial/Accounting 17 3
House Keeping 41 6 Bar Tending 16 3
Foreign Language 37 6 Hospitality 15 2
Waitering 31 5 Landscape Upkeep 14 2
Culinary Skills 25 4 Driving 12 2
Leadership 25 4 Diving 11 2
Tour Guiding 20 3 Maintenance 11 2
Human Resource Management 19 3 Technical Skills 10 2
Marketing 19 3 Swimming Pool Operation 9 2

Other Analysis

When looking at the type of training that is currently being undertaken by the various sectors of tourism operation, “On the job training” is used the most across all sectors. In the accommodation sector, 90% use on the job training, 18% use in-house classroom training, 7% use external trainers, 14% use local tourism training institutions, 3% use regional tourism training institutions, and 3% uses international tourism training institutions. This trend was similar across the different sectors of tourism operations. Table 12 shows the breakdown.

Table 12: Type of Training used by different sectors of Tourism Operations (percent)

Type On the job In-house classroom External trainers Local institutions Regional institutions International institutions
Accommodation 90 18 7 14 3 3
Food and Beverage 94 18 1 4 1 0
Adventure Tourism 86 27 3 33 7 3
Transportation 88 16 8 20 0 4
Travel Trade 73 23 10 40 8 10
Events and Conferences 68 0 33 0 0 0
Attractions 75 25 8 8 0 0
Tourism Services 73 27 18 9 0 0
Education and Training 50 0 0 0 0 50

When a cross tabulation was run to determine the preferred training time by the type of tourism operations there was no difference across the nine sectors in their preference for daytime training during the week with training during the evening hours following closely. Training on the weekends seems to be the least attraction of the three options. Table 13 provides the detail.

Table 13: Training Time used by Types of Operations (percent)

Type Daytime Evening Weekends
Accommodation 41 36 8
Food and Beverage 43 31 10
Adventure Tourism 43 37 3
Transportation 42 40 4
Travel Trade 58 38 4
Events and Conferences 0 100 0
Attractions 50 36 17
Tourism Services 36 50 18
Education and Training 0 34 0

Table 14 provides a detailed breakdown of the training needs across the tune sectors of tourism. This information will guide the Unit to target its marketing efforts to the right sector. For example, the table shows that 249 people from the accommodation sector would like training in Customer Relations and from this number, 77 are from the managerial level, 45 from the professional level, 70 from the semi-skilled level and 57 from the unskilled. This breakdown can be shown for all the training needs across every sector.

Table 15 shows the training needs of the nine destinations. This information will be provided to the District Tourism Trainers who will use this to know whom to approach for training.


The results of the needs assessment study suggest several potential areas of emphasis for tourism training. The nine most desired programs that the industry is calling for are customer relations, marketing, leadership, financia/accounting, communications, human resources management, management, computer literacy and foreign language. These programs ranked the highest across the nine sectors of tourism and across the four levels of employment.

Most responses came from the Stann Creek District (17.6% of the total amount) and the least from Corozal (7.1%). The accommodation sector of tourism had the most responses (41.1%) and the Tourism Education and Training Institutions had the least (.3%). Of the establishments that participated in the survey 86% currently conduct on the job training and 99% stated that this type of training is important. The least used type of training is the sending of employees to international training institutions (3%). During the daytime is the preferred time for training with the weekends being least preferred.

© Vincent Palacio, 2003.

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