Carrie Miller and Chris Taylor, two world-renowned National Geographic writers, are in Belize on a one-week working visit sponsored by the Belize Tourism Board. Belize is the ninth country the team has traveled to with forty-one to go. During their time in Belize, the team is expected to visit Belize’s premier attractions. The Belize Tourism Board held a press brief where the media met the team and Taylor shared the places they will be traveling to.
Chris Taylor – Writer, National Geographic: “I did some research and I decided to look at the southern reefs so South Water Caye in particular and the area around there mainly because it’s a very good overall dive site so it has a wide range of different dive opportunities so there’s a wide range of diving for more skilled people and less skilled people and also because it’s a little bit quieter now. Divers want to get the best bang for their buck when they’re spending money so they will be looking for the best places for them to spend their money and the best place is generally somewhere there is a marine park because a marine park there is a lot of things to see. So when divers are deciding where to spend their money on a holiday that is primarily what they are going to be looking at, ‘where is the place where I could see the best wildlife.’. And so from our research that is what I determined where we’d like to go in Belize and where would like to put our focus. Part of the project is that it’s also about trying to find the balance between the diving and the travel so when we search for locations they may not be the absolute best diving location because a lot of time those diving locations are based served by livable boats where people are on a boat for a whole week going out, but if you’re travelling with a non diving partner or in a group where some people are diving and some people aren’t a live aboard is not really an option because the non divers will have nothing to do and will be stuck on a boat being able to read a book on deck and that’s not something that we are looking at. Those sorts of destinations totally have their merit but I think Belize for liveaboards and for those keen divers that just want to dive and do nothing else Belize is already on the rader. I think what we are doing is promoting Belize as a complete travel destination rather than just the diving parts so I think the blue hole is something that nearly every diver in the world already knows about and most divers already dream about coming.”
Tourism is a major source of income for Belize; however, Miller and Taylor emphasized the need for tourist destinations to strike an equal balance between promotion and conservation.
Carrie Miller – Writer, National Geographic: “Conservation is such a huge part of tourism they go hand in hand and it’s a double edged sword because tourists put a lot of pressure on destinations but they also bring a lot of revenue and it’s the reason why destinations are popular but National Geographic recently launched major campaign I think it was on the 18th of May called ‘Planet or Plastic’ to try and draw awareness to the fact that the pressure that we are putting on locations. Nearly 1 million plastic bottles are sold every minute around the world and they have no place to go so what happens on land happens on water and it’s up to destinations to try and protect that they’ve got and educate children and get local buy in to this protection which in return brings tourists in and Belize has always done a really good job with it’s marine parks and it’s marine protection and it has opportunities to be world leaders in this space but that’s always a major effort. However if Belize can become a world leader in this space it will attract even more tourists so it’s a really delicate balance.”
Chris Taylor – Writer, National Geographic: “The important thing is to then manage that tourism in a way that it then doesn’t put too much pressure back on the ecosystem and then destroy it again so it’s all about finding that balance and finding a good way of managing that for future generations and to have a long term sustainable tourism industry with it.”
BTB pointed out in a press release that the National Geographic team’s visit, in addition to attracting greater attention for Belize, is yet another example of the effectively promotional efforts by both the BTB and its strategic partners in promoting Belize as a “top world Curious Destination”. The team’s travel experience in Belize will be featured in the National Geographic dive travel guidebook which will be published by Random House in 2020.