elize is getting more attention for being more “unknown” than other destinations. Most Belizeans are aware that we are a small country with a relatively anonymous international profile. When it comes to our tourism, we are not entirely out, but we can no longer claim to be Mother Nature’s “best kept secret” either. The secret is getting out and that is a good thing for our tourism. The esteemed business media company, Forbes Magazine, published a recent article about Belize titled “Why This Under- The Radar Central American Destination Should Be On Your Travel List”. The article focuses on the Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, Honorable Anthony Mahler, perspective on Belize’s tourism product and what the plans are for the industry. The Minister explains to the magazine that “sustainability” is a main focus for us and that “we have included the philosophy in our short-term and long-term goals.” As Belize becomes better known to international travelers, at home we know that the outside attention will not shift our focus from specific benefits that our anonymity has helped to preserve. Being a secret has had its benefits for our environment and ecosystems. Even as we compete with other destinations for more overnight arrivals, even as we invest in more marketing to draw added attention to our tourism product, and even as we remove the last veil of secrecy about our unique tourism offerings, we will maintain our clandestine aura in specific areas. As a high-quality-low impact, eco-adventure destination we want to become well known for the things we place value on.
In our tourism, we place value on our people, our places, and our potential. The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) makes no secret of the tremendous worth that our people and culture add to Belize’s tourism product. Social initiatives that build Belizean civic pride and national identity are ongoing and upcoming. For instance, the Belize International Music and Food Festival is set to take place on July 29th and 30th. This initiative, like many others is meant for local and international travelers and entertainers. Developments in our culture offering are complemented by protecting and conserving our high value places. Our natural environment, archeological sites, reefs, and beaches are our high-value places. Being a tourism secret for so long afforded us the unique advantage of planning for our industry future with sustainability as the ethos that guides our planning. The sustainable development of our industry preserves and guarantees our potential as a premier tourism destination. We will not drop the ball where conserving our environment is concerned. As we continue to unlock our secrets to the outside world, we will continue to tap into the value of our people, the fertility of our natural environment, and the immensity of our potential.
On the topic of building more awareness about Belize, Minister Mahler tells Forbes’ that “the United States is our main market for visitors, but many Americans are still unaware that flying to Belize is just 2-3 hours away from most major US cities”. Forbes’ recent article highlights the furtivism in Belize’s tourism. Most Belizeans have places in their communities that they consider a secret – a special swimming area, a distinctive BBQ spot, an especially picturesque part of the landscape, a small secluded creek, or some relatively unknown area that has not been found out by outsiders just yet. Belize is not a kept secret anymore but as Forbes Magazine points out, we are still “under the radar” and that’s okay.
See you next week.
The Belize Tourism Board