I’ve been thinking… ::gasp! don’t do that Megan!:: about Belize’s Tourism Product and specifically our offerings on the Peninsula and I was comparing the experience of our visitors to experiences I’ve had in other destinations when I travel. I’m always in that mindset now, of seeing what others do better and how Belize could improve. If you’re a regular reader here then you know I’ve been pushing the Sea Turtle Farm for awhile (still stand by it, win-win-win scenario, someone should make it happen), and more recently I’ve promoted the idea of a demonstrational seaweed farm set-up within kayak distance of Placencia. But I have a new idea! If I were in charge at the BTB and had some control over destination development plans or whatnot… Do you know what I’d do? Bring a bit of razzle dazzle to Belize! I’m talking: dinner and a SHOW!
Maybe Placencia isn’t the place for this; as much as I hate to admit it, perhaps this idea is best suited to San Pedro. But there or here, the idea is the same so let’s take a look.
I left a job at a radio group in South Jersey to come to Belize and I was spoiled with free access to lots and lots of fantastic entertainment in Atlantic City and recently when we went to Mexico we splurged on some Cirque du Soleil tickets that were totally worth it and last year when my friend got married in Hawaii her reception was at a phenomenal Luau where the performance blew us away. This Belize Dinner Show doesn’t have to be to that caliber obviously, but it should be leagues above Wednesday night drumming at Tipsy Tuna. I envision a medium sized performance venue, probably the size of an airplane hanger (but hopefully more artfully designed, come on, if I’m going to do it then I’m going to do it properly, gosh) because it would have a stage maybe 60-90 feet (I’m not great with measurements but smaller than a basketball court?) and seating for about 150 people.
The tourism product here is entertainment with a base of Belizean history and culture and a side of culinary delight. The food is important but it is secondary to the performance. We’re going to serve traditional delights like Mayan corn foods, Garifuna sere or hudut, Kriol stew seafood or meats, Mennonite cheese, Mestizo chimole, etc. The cuisine is part of the experience but the entertainment is the main aspect.
I envision the show walking us through the history of the country from the ancient Maya (open with a Deer Dance or something flashy) to the arrival of the Spanish and British colonizers and their clash (a cannon booms! the Baymen engage in an exciting sword fight and are victorious), the settling of the Garifuna people (Yurimen reenactment, joyful drumming and dancing take us through the main course), Mennonites make a debut (I’m thinking they should be acrobats or something), and the whole night ends with a September Celebration style Carnival Soca dance party.
We can do a special lunchtime edition on Norwegian’s cruise ship days. I acknowledge that San Pedro probably has the tourist numbers to better support this but I like the idea for Placencia in particular because we don’t have much in the way of offerings ON the peninsula; all our tours and excursions take you OUT of town- either miles off shore to reach the reef or hours inland for ziplining caves and ruins. Placencia really needs to work on developing its tourism product beyond just the beach bars and gift shops.
But this only works if it’s done right; not half-assed like SO many of the things we’ve done. So if I were in charge at the BTB I would NOT have spent however-the-hell much on the moronic Targeting the Latin American Traveler Campaign, I would have spent it on developments within Belize and building our offerings. I would have incentivized one of these companies that organizes stage performances to sign a 10 year contract to operate and execute the show, give the catering contract to a local agency, and the land/venue I build remains a holding of the GOB.