Belize Tourism Board Social Media Blocked over Human Trafficking
ORT has formally challenged Belize Tourism to a social media duel. The Belize Tourism Board Action Plan 2010-2012 relies heavily on the deployment of social media marketing to draw international tourists. Unfortunately, social media is only a vehicle and not the answer to Belize’s core corruption problems. Once again, Belize is trying to put a veneer on a rotten tooth. A wobbly and putrid smile won’t charm the tourists it seeks to woo. Say cheese, Belize. Your use of social media will only result in more people than ever getting a whiff.
Belize tourism is now synonymous with human trafficking in the social media world. The BTB’s recently released marketing plan leans to a large extent on use of social media to reposition its brand. It won’t work. Here’s why.
ORT has ensured human trafficking and Belize tourism are so tightly enmeshed on the Web that any attempts to use social media to reposition that country as a destination of choice will backfire. We can only hope they carry out their plans with the assistance of their expensive eco tourism consulting company. If the BTB goes forward with their social media plans they’ll provide a platform for ORT’s technical team to apply all our resources to take advantage of their new gambit. In fact, we plan to use their platform to reinforce our tourism boycott campaign.
Belize paid EplerWoods International $2 million to develop the tourism marketing strategy. Meanwhile, the Belize government has not spent a penny on its human trafficking issues. ORT and its thousands of followers have petitioned them repeatedly to consider low-cost remedies that address human trafficking at its borders. As well, our committed followers have exhorted them to enforce their own prostitution laws, which they could do at very little expense. It’s not clear how much they will spend on hiring a social media company to steward their online marketing redirect. We will watch with interest to see the results of the request for proposal that’s gone out to social media consulting firms. The new tourism strategy called for a commitment to transparency so, in that spirit, we will assume that fees will be publicly disclosed for the social media company of record.
Our social media marketing campaign has cost us zero dollars, yet it’s been very effective. Use any large search engine to search keywords, “Vivian Trill,” “Belize Tourism Boycott” or “Belize Human Trafficking” and you will get the idea. We are darned sure that the social media companies jockeying for the Belize tourism contract have done so by now. ORT’s efforts have now generated about 1 billion indexed pages over a few months. These companies will understand what that means and appreciate exactly what they are up against. If they say it’s easy our advice to Belize is to strike them from your vendor contender list immediately.
We have no choice but to wait and see how much more the Belize government will pay to consultants instead of working with us in partnership free-of-charge. We have made clear in our blogs that we offered to work with Belize Tourism CEO Mike Singh to position Belize as an anti-trafficking champion, a move that would attract positive world attention and the deserved tourism bounty that would follow. Instead, concurrent with our discussions, Mike Singh’s hired guns were consulting broadly within the Belize tourism sector to prepare the recently released strategy.
We stand by our commitment to work with Belize to position it as an anti-human trafficking champion and a global tourism destination of choice. Our command of social media is clear and our price point is unbeatable.
And yet, Belize chooses to give millions of dollars to foreign consultants while their inadequately funded and corrupt police force lets their citizens go unprotected. This is happening while Belize’s growing crime index mounts, including spiraling murder rates. All this money going to international companies while there is no financial commitment to address porous and corrupt border practices that allow a constant stream of trafficked women into forced prostitution.
ORT’s technical team has used social media to bring thousands of global followers to the conclusion the Belize tourism boycott is warranted and should stand. Here’s our message to the Belize Tourism Board, to the pricey EplerWoods International and the costly social media consulting firm that’s finally hired. If your aim is to spend millions on social media to bring tourism to Belize shores, we will use all our demonstrated, pro bono skills and expertise to reinforce the Belize tourism boycott. And we will use your own social media platform to do it. Wheels are already in motion.