When did Belize’s tourism offerings become fashionable? Judging from the recently launched 11-page editorial spread in the world-renowned Harper’s Bazaar magazine, Destination Belize has certainly grown in its celebrity status, being ranked among the Who’s Who in fashion, beauty and pop culture.
Belize Tourism Board’s Director Karen Bevans told The Reporter Wednesday, hours before the spread’s official unveiling in Belize City, that the BTB and the industry thankfully capitalized on a low-cost opportunity—which was originally designed to feature the personal life of the Prime Minister’s wife, Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow—to showcase Belize in the 147-year-old brand name magazine.
“One full-page ad in a magazine of this nature averages about USD$40,000; that’s roughly BZ$80,000,” Bevans explained.
“There is no way that the BTB could have financed something of this magnitude: almost a dozen pages in a brand name magazine that publishes in approximately 30 countries, including United States, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.”
Bevans pointed out that the venture only cost the BTB BZ$50,000 because the tourism sector chipped in with the rest:
“This cost [BZ$50,000] covered local in-country support; but we must thank the Belize tourism industry partners, who contributed in-kind services, such as complimentary rooms, meals, and tours estimated at approximately US$30,000.”
Major resorts like Victoria House, Turtle Inn, Cayo Espanto, El Secreto were among those who supported the initiative.
But how did fashionistas turn into eco-tourism enthusiasts? Bevans explained that the magazine initially reached out to Mrs. Barrow to do a story on her personal life, given her role as a “Belizean role model”; but Barrow opted for a more country-centric piece.
“Featuring Mrs. Barrow was a choice of Harper’s because of her professional successes and personal but inspiring journey.
“She has been given very high profile status in Belize and abroad because of her work,” Bevans noted. “The BTB was, therefore, pleased to know that she insisted that this offer to feature her should be all about Belize.”
She emphasized that the feature can certainly yield significant benefits to the tourism industry, as this specific offshoot of the Harper’s brand—Harper’s Bazaar Interiors (based in the United Arab Emirates)—distributes about 100,000 copies of the publication to major newsstands across the Gulf each month.
The magazine also benefits from specialist distribution to luxury hotels, spas and high-end interior stores.
It also profits from regional distribution in countries such as Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and other in the Middle East.
“These are upcoming markets that fit the demographics of Belizean visitors, and we took the opportunity to introduce them to the idea of Belize as a world class, premiere vacation destination,” Bevans shared.
“We are basically building awareness on Belize in the Middle East market.”
The piece’s storyline is “Wife of Prime Minister of Belize, Kim Simplis Barrow, takes Harpers Bazaar Interiors on a tour of the Caribbean paradise she’s proud to call home.”
The current issue was released last Thursday, but was unveiled Wednesday night at the Belize City launching of Belize Tourism Expo (BETEX), a biennial Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA)-led business-to-business event that allows tourism service providers to showcase their product and services.
The magazine’s target audience is 92.2 percent women, with more than 40 percent of its readers being between the ages of 35-54, with average household income of more than US$95,000.
Those interested in seeing the full spread for themselves can purchase the magazine online at http://www.zinio.com/www/browse/product.jsp?rf=sch&productId=500656455.