Posted: Friday, September 23, 2016. 3:18 a.m. CST.
By Charles Leslie Jr.: Belize has a unique, diverse cultural mix of people which should be our primary focus when marketing and selling Belize’s tourism product to the world.
I have watched the Belize Tourism Board’s marketing material over the years, and most of it are well put together: beautiful pictures of our barrier reef, our islands, our Mayan Temples, our lush tropical jungle, however, the Belizean people, and all the different cultures that make Belize, Belize, is hardly ever showcased, and when it is, it is only superficially.
Belize has so many different, unique events all across the country, such as the Cashew Fest in Crooked Tree, the CacaoFest in Punta Gorda, the Deer Festival in the Mayan Village of San Antonio in Toledo, San Jose Succotz Fiesta, 3 different Lobster festival, Garifuna Settlement Day, just to name a few. All these local festivals all over Belize showcase something special about each village, each area, and most importantly the cultural diversity of Belize.
Most of the ads I see tries to summarize Belize’s tourism product in a 30 second to 1-minute ad, more or less, however, they end up falling short of capturing the true essence and soul of Belize. I recommend that the BTB start creating ads to target niche markets. Imagine the food-lover watching a 1-minute ad that showcases the preparation of a typical Belizean seafood platter. A local commercial fisherman catching fresh fish and lobster, then a local chef preparing them for that evening’s meal for guests. And throughout the ad each local person gives a brief explanation about how and why they do what they do.
There are thousands of people who would travel to Belize just to witness the November 19th culturally-rich Garifuna Settlement Day Celebrations, however, this event is hardly ever showcased, and when it is, it is a quick snapshot. Wine Connoisseurs would flock to Crooked Tree to check out the home-made wines, where you get to talk to each winemaker and learn how they started, their process and the best part, getting to taste some amazing wines.
What makes Belize, Belize, are Belizeans, first and foremost.
The bottom line is, BTB, as a strategic partner in marketing the Belize tourism product, you need to start thinking outside the box. You need to showcase more of our people and our cultural diversity and start creating ads focused on selling our niche tourism products to niche market segments all over the world. People know that Belize has amazing sea and jungle sights, however, from looking at the ads, they know very little about our people and our rich cultural diversity.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow noted in his September 21st, 2016 Independence Day Speech: “Strong and resilient and anchored by certain enduring fundamentals with which the bounty of this land, the native brightness of our people and the richness of our culture have blessed us.” Let us make the “ brightness of our people” and the “richness of our culture” a more prominent part when it comes to selling our tourism product to the world.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
The article was written by Charles Leslie Jr., former independent Chairman of Placencia Village (2010 – 2013). He holds an Associates degree in business, accounting and economics and has over 20 years business experience.
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