from a friend, super well written...
For one week this month in January the nation of Belize will be celebrating Belize Tourism Week. On January 26, the BTB will host a special awards ceremony, a veritable report card night of sorts, to honor the shining stars in the industry -- the best of the best. But, what if the industry participants were also to judge the performance of the BTB over the past year, what grade do you think the BTB would get?
I have this dream that one day the BTB will finally move out of its overtly regulatory / statistical reporting frame of mind and concentrate instead primarily on marketing more efficiently the many cultural treasures in this jewel of ours. After all, marketing Belize's uniqueness on behalf of the tourism industry was really the founding mission statement of the BTB. I think it needs to go back to its roots.
I have this dream that the BTB will reinvent itself and become the lead promoter of all things cultural Belizean. France, producer of great wines, has its Burgundy and Champagne areas. Here in Belize we are equally as rich in wine-making history and talent. The Belize River Valley is a veritable gold mine -- producing Stinkin Toe (Bukut) Wine, Sorrel Wine, Cashew Wine, Berries Wine, Rice Wine, etc. Yet, many tourists and even our local people are not very much aware that this goldmine exists. Isn't the time ripe for a belizewines.com website? Wouldn't it be nice if the BTB would take the initiative to host and internationally promote local wine tasting festivals to help the fledleging wine makers promote this little known cultural cottage industry with big potential?
How about a rum tasting festival? How about a belizerums.com website? Our rums are rated amongst the best in the world. What if our local Belizean rums became the new Bacardis of the world? What if it were the BTB that made the world aware through its local rum festivals that our Belizean rums are the world standard to beat?
Many Belizeans are familiar with Garifuna Settlement Day. What many people do not know is that New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are also unforgettable days in Garifuna culture. On New Years Eve, there is the Grand Ball, where all the ladies dress up in their formal cultural clothes, and the men likewise, and they go out to merrymake. On New Year's Day there is Junkunu dancing in the streets, a cultural must-see that is no less exciting than Garifuna druming and dancing in the streets on Garifuna Settlement Day. What if the BTB took the lead in proclaiming to the world that these exciting cultural events are a sight to behold, that if you missed the Deer Dance or you did not taste Sere at least once in your life that you would not have lived a full life?
What if the BTB would promote frequent marketing blitzes utilizing all those email addresses in what should surely by now be a vast database of tens of thousands (if not millions) of requests for information it has surely accumulated over more than the decade of its existence? What if these marketing blitzes happened every two weeks? Email campaigns are a cheap and easy way to get the Belize message out, especially at this time when people in the frozen white north can only dream of what sunshine must look like.
And speaking of sunshine, I have this dream that in 2007, tourist cams paid for by the BTB will be installed at all tourism destinations and a live feed of each destination will be broadcast over the internet 24/7, together with the local temperature and weather conditions. People overseas dreaming of visiting Belize would have real time information on the sunshine quotient in this beautiful jewel of ours. Wouldn't that be lovely? If you were away and freezing cold, would something like that help to jumpstart your travel plans? What if once potential visitors logged onto the website to check out the sunshine quotient in the jewel, there was a little button nearby on the same website where they could easily download a short video of the destination of their choice to help warm them up even more?
What if we finally do away with the obsolete Destination Belize magazine and paper brochures, and replace these instead with more modern marketing tools such as video dvd's of each Belize destination. Video dvds are cheaper to mail, easier to store, and cheaper to make. Besides, they take up no luggage space whatsoever. For those visitors so enchanted with Belize they would like to refer our country to their families and friends, there is nothing better than a thin, compact, easily available dvd souvenir to take back home.
I have this dream that with the finalization of the international airport runway extension later this year, that more of the marketing budget will be spent attracting visitors from European nations who since their currency is so strong in the world market these days, will surely find our country to be a cheap destination.
Yes, I have this dream...I dream that 2007 will be the year that Belize not only celebrates Tourism Week, but instead celebrates Tourism Year. For many of us, our livelihoods depend on it.