This week the Belize Tourism Board premiered new advertisements promoting Belize as a tourism destination. Every so often the campaign is refreshed and the current one talks about “Discover How to Be…in Belize.” While Belize has never had difficulty with attracting eager tourists, some locals are up in arms over the usage of the music of a foreign national, Honduras’ Aurelio Martinez, in the background of an ad promoting Belize. But according to the BTB’s director of marketing, Alyssa Carnegie, it is more than about the music.
Alyssa Carnegie – Director of Marketing, BTB:
Aurelio is not a Belizean artist, he was born in Honduras. We weren’t looking about the artist being Belizean. We’re looking at a Belizean experience, and if you know the Belize I know, the Belize we all know, we’re all embracing. We’re very culturally diverse, but we’re a very friendly people as well. When we looked at Aurelio, he’s worked with the greats; Paul Nabor, Andy Palacio. His recordings are done here in Belize. He signed to Stone Tree Records which is a local company, a local label and he performs in Belize and he performs internationally, and he does a really great job at promoting Belize. So we thought it was less about the person and more about the music ,and more so the music that would help to get that story across about what the Belize picture is, and we felt that this was a very genuine authentic and interested approach to getting that done. To tell you the truth, what the song was was more than an artist. It was not a conscious effort to promote someone foreign over a local. That was not the intention at all and I won’t be put in a box to say that that was the intention. It just happen to be that he was born in Honduras but he is also an artist who produces music with a local recording company along with local artists, stalwarts and leaders in this cultural music revolution for Belize.
According to Alyssa Carnegie the BTB maintains its relationship with local artists in a separate local campaign.
Alyssa Carnegie – BTB:
This video is not the end all, be all, of videos that we will be doing. BTB had been doing several videos highlighting local personalities in terms of what makes you proud to be a Belizean. There’s a lot more that we will be doing to promote local travel in Belize, as well as internationally. So this is not the first time. We’re participating in the September festivities, in the carnival march as well as the September 21st Parade. A lot of the bands that we use are local, and that’s because we want to make sure the experience is about the music, it’s about reflection of what Belize has to offer. We have a wide variety of music to choose from that is representative of Belize. We just happen to choose one that we felt matched very well with the story, and came from somebody who, while born in Honduras, has done a lot to [promote] Belize.
So the Board is not turning back, and initial reception among the target audience has been positive.
Alyssa Carnegie – BTB:
While we’ve gotten some negative feedback, in terms of the artist, I think we’ve gotten a significant amount of people who were really impressed with the video, and felt like we did justice to the country, and absolutely love the video. I don’t think we’ve gotten anybody who said the direction is wrong, merely discussing why we chose this particular artist.