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The advertising and marketing industry in Belize is to a large extent concerned with the tourism market. In 2011 Belize spent around US$6 million on marketing the country as a tourism destination. The high-profile advertising and marketing tends to be outsourced to large international firms. For example, in 2012 the Tourism Board made a deal with American based advertising agency Olsen to promote the country as a destination. In 2011 the Belize Tourism Industry Association held its first marketing and tourism summit, which attracted the growing number of advertising, marketing and PR personnel working in the country.
There are also a limited number of locally based advertising firms. Prominent amongst these is Idea Lab Studios, the leading full service advertising agency. The marketing industry is served by a number of specialised firms, many of which focus on internet marketing, such as Global Marketing, Naturalight Productions and TAS Belize.
Although many Belizeans are familiar with most of the popular international brand names, franchising remains rare since competition in the local market is more often based on price, rather than on name recognition or perceived quality standards. Franchising in Belize currently extends to just a few well-known brand names, including Best Western in the hotel industry; Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the soft drink industry; and Avis, Budget and Hertz, in the car rental business.
The PR industry in the country is experiencing growth, especially with the advent of tourism as a major revenue source. This is usually achieved through outsourcing to foreign firms. Amongst the locally based leaders are PR agency Nauta Vero and the internet marketing and PR company Become Caribbean.
Advertising in Belize is done mainly through radio, newspapers, magazines, and television. The country has 12 FM stations and one AM station and numerous weekly newspapers, which all offer an advertising market. Both the national and local television stations have frequent commercial breaks. However, the use of billboards is also fast gaining popularity.
There are a growing number of websites related to business and tourism in Belize, which offer prime advertising space. As part of this, Belize Telemedia Limited’s ‘E-Directory’ in now online, allowing advertisers to reach a wider audience.