Any month is a great month to be in Belize, but Belize in September is extra special. Here’s why:
September is one of our favourite months in Belize, and, with the country halfway through the always-exuberant September independence celebrations, having observed St George’s Caye Day on the tenth, partied at Carnival on the 12th, and getting ready for the big nationwide Independence Day celebrations on September 21st, now’s a good time catch our breath and reflect upon all those things that make September in Belize so special.
There aren’t very many countries that celebrate their independence over the course of an entire month, but then not many countries are Belize.
Check it out:
1. Belize is still a sparkling new nation, having achieved independence from Great Britain on September 21, 1981. With that independence still fresh in everyone’s minds, it’s no wonder feelings run so high.
2. Since independence, Belize has gone from a relatively obscure little country with farming and fishing as the main occupations to a vibrant, world-class travel destination whose reputation has grown in leaps and bounds. We clearly remember when people would say, “Belize? Where’s that?” to “Belize! Oh yeah! What an amazing place!”
3. What’s unique, and really impressive, is how organically Belize’s ecotourism industry has grown. In the early days there was no money for big budget advertising campaigns to compete with our regional neighbours so, as with everything else, Belize did it differently.
4. First and foremost was word of mouth, and Belize had the good fortune of having social media grow alongside her own development. People were blown away by the vast rainforests filled with wildlife, Maya archaeology and stunning natural beauty, the pristine Caribbean beaches and scores of tiny islands dotting the Belize Great Barrier Reef, the warm and friendly people and the many other attractions. And they couldn’t wait to tell their friends.
Word began spreading about Belize.
At the same time, small, grassroots businesses began sprouting all across Belize. Rainforest lodges and inland expeditions in the interior, boat and dive operations on the coast and cayes along the Belize Great Barrier Reef, tour companies and guides specialising in Maya culture and Belize’s incredibly rich natural features, and an array of small hotels, guest houses, restaurants, clubs, car hire, boat charter and all the other operations catering to a growing tourist trade.
With a new government, Belize’s public sector agencies worked closely with private enterprise, and this led to a more collaborative tourism industry that was responsive to travellers, resulting in a high degree of customer satisfaction.
Being new and working with a relatively blank canvas also allowed the tourism industry to be founded on principles of environmental sustainability, social welfare and the tenets of responsible travel. Belize was able to learn from and avoid the mistakes of others while ensuring that her own development was Green and sustainable. Travellers notice and appreciate this, creating a happy cycle of more tourists contributing towards a better product that creates more jobs, a higher standard of living and a more attractive nation – which leads to more tourists contributing towards…
You get the idea, Belize It!
And the fact that all of this has happened in a mere thirty-four years, a blink of an eye in the thousands of years since Belize was first settled by the Maya, is astounding.
So you’ll understand why people seem so joyously excited and there’s such a festive atmosphere during September. No one quite knew what to expect back in September 1981 (the month and year Chaa Creek opened it’s doors, incidentally), and even the most optimistic observers probably didn’t predict that Belize would so quickly become a prosperous, key player in the region and the world.
Take a bow, Belize, you’ve come a long way.
If you’re fortunate enough to be in Belize September 21st, you’ll have a chance to join one of the most exuberant parties on the planet.
And if you’re not, you can still participate long distance by putting on some Belizean music (check out www.stonetreerecords.com for an extensive catalogue of Belizean beats), firing up the barbeque (and here are recipes for Belize’s national dish – Rice & Beans) perhaps relaxing with a rum drink and enjoying that very Belizean pastime of dancing.
And feel free to send us a greeting here – we always love hearing from our many friends around the world.
Better yet, plan on coming down for a visit and see for yourself what the excitement’s all about. You’ll soon understand why this year’s September celebrations theme resonates: Belize, Renewed, Confident, Competitive, and Committed