Every year, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) spends millions to improve its marketing and branding of Belize as a prime tourist destination. The challenge is to convince prospective tourists, located continents away, that Belize is the perfect place to visit for an unforgettable experience. It’s a hard sell, considering that the potential tourist has likely never heard of Belize, is bombarded with similar marketing strategies from hundreds of agencies, and is possibly highly sceptical of the message. Marketing is so important that this year, BTB signed possibly what is a multi-million dollar contract with a U.S. marketing firm, which has so far delivered a new logo, promising that it is the new look Belize needs.
Well, a 20 year old Belizean who does not have the financial backing or global reputation as Olson does, has stepped up to create an innovative and ground-breaking idea that could transform how Belize is marketed to just about anyone, anywhere in one of the most effective manners.
Thyrell Hyde said he simply wanted to create a fun board game that would have him visit places in Belize without spending money or days travelling, or the worse part: having to leave the places. He said that thanks to his aunt, Rhenae Nuñez, he travelled a lot and got to know Belize. Upon concluding a trip to Placencia, he obtained a Destination Belize Magazine and the idea of the board game came to him.
“I thought it would be good if persons could travel the country without actually having to physically go to places,” said Thyrell.
After several weeks, Thyrell had drafted the concept of “The Tourist”, a monopoly-like board game that gives persons the adventure and excitement of travelling to any part of Belize.
Thyrell printed a colourful, large-scale image of the Belize map on a board, and on each district he highlighted the popular tourist spots such as Maya ruins, Hotels, Museums and other cultural centers. Each spot carries points. On the game, he also added a public transportation system and some cash. The goal of the game is to visit each district, and as specific spots as possible within a budget of $3,000. The only requirements are that they must 1. Eat at a restaurant, 2. stay at a hotel, 3. pay for transportation and 4. go on an activity such as sightseeing. The person, who travels to all districts and earns the most points, would win the game.
To make the game more fun, Thyrell added a deck of wild cards. For every move, a player would draw a card and follow the instructions. This is where the game gets interesting. The cards give points for visits to cultural spots but also take away points for being a bad visitor and engaging in wrongful acts such as becoming intoxicated and starting a brawl at a local club or littering.
“The Tourist” is a fun, adventurous and educational game. But there is much more to it. Thyrell’s concept could redefine how Belize is marketed on the global stage, but it can only happen with the support of policy stakeholders.
Thyrell said that he is in discussions with a company to make the game a virtual 3D game. This means a tourist located continents away would be able to play the game and get sneak-peaks of popular spots in Belize in a 3D, Avatar-like version. With Belize’s beauty and unique tourism potential, a tourist could fall in love instantly and sign up for a vacation.
“The Tourist” board game is an outstanding initiative and a great start. Indeed, as Thyrell said, “it is the ultimate souvenir” and a proud made-in-Belize product. With 3D imaging and other options available through technology it can transform the industry.
Thyrell is on the right direction. With the support of his family and their new company, Hyde Enterprises, they reached out to relevant stakeholders from the start. The National Institute for Culture and History with material on the board, and support has also been offered by other organisations such as Belize Tourism Industry Association, Belize Tourism Board, Belize Hotel Association, Belize Telemedia, Chamber of Commerce and Toucan Industries.
“It’s been a bit difficult for the older people to understand, but it’s occurring steadily. The journey has been exhausting sometimes, but I am proud of what we’ve achieved,” Thyrell said. He said it would no have been possible without the support of his parents Kaila Moralez and Randolph Hyde.
On March 8, Thyrell will speak at a public presentation of the concept and the potential with hopes that more organisations show interest in the project and possibly support by offering sponsorship or purchasing the board games. This will take place at 4pm at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts in Belize City.
Anyone interested in finding out more can email [email protected] at [email protected], or visit the Facebook account: The Tourist Belize.
The Belize Times