For some reason easing back into regular blogging seems to be much harder than I expected. However, watching the Australia-England One-Day match has inspired me to post something. Perhaps inspired is the wrong word, as it is actually an advert that has annoyed me enough to rant about it.
It was a tourism advert for Malaysia that annoyed me. Now, I don’t have anything against Malaysia, its a lovely country, I have in-laws from there, and Malay food is perhaps my favourite cuisine (although Cajun and Korean are close rivals). The country certainly is beatiful and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel there and would certainly recommend it to others fortunate enough to visit it. Right now though Malaysia seems to have a really good advertising campaign going on, beatiful shots of Malaysian culture, food and nature, nice soundtrack and the tag line of ‘Malaysia – truly asia’. All very nice.
So, why should this annoy me? It annoys me because I think in my entire life I can only recall ever seeing three adverts for Bermuda. One of them was a television ad on US tv in the 1990s, one was a poster in a travel agents office near little Korea in Toronto (2002; but the poster seemed faded and dated) and the last one was an advert in a magazine from about 2000. I truly cannot recall seeing any other ads before or since. And I really have trouble understanding why that is. Sometimes I wonder if they are out there, but for some obscure reason I just have a knack of not coming across them. However, due to the number of other tourism adverts for other small island states I do come across, I reckon that its more likely that we’re just not advertising Bermuda anywhere near to these other countries.
This Malaysian advert reminded me of some posters I came across in London in early June. I had gone down to London and Canterbury for a meeting and to visit some friends. Using the tube I couldn’t help but take some of those ridiculously long escalators that they have there (seriously, I have never been on such a long escalator!). As you go up they have all these posters on the side to make the best use of a relatively captive audience. I swear, almost every fifth poster was advertising Turks & Caicos. Seriously, Turks & Caicos. Again, nothing against them and all, but I really wasn’t expecting to see such an advertising campaign for them. Other big adverts that I came across on this trip were some nice ones for Jamaica and Barbados, and quite a few for Cuba. In Canterbury – of all places – I came across an advert for Haiti, in addition to ones for Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad. I have also come across television ads for Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and even Greneda.
While I’ve heard Bermuda mentioned in passing on radio (as a vacation prize) and on the television (on a sitcom) and of course in the news with the whole Uighur issue, I have not yet come across a single advert for Bermuda as a tourist destination. The most I’ve seen is a handwritten sign in a travel agents office in a mall in south Edinburgh.
I understand that it makes more sense to focus on the US eastern seaboard for tourism. So perhaps there is a lot more advertising going on there. And while I don’t have access to much US television over here, I have to say I really haven’t seen any when I lived in Bermuda drowning in US television. And I haven’t come across any advertisments online – at least not without deliberately searching for them. Although I have come across some for Cayman.
And I really don’t understand what the problem is. Our country should be able to invest more into tourism advertising than many other countries that I do come across routinely. I know we even have an expensive office in London. So where’s the beef? Seriously, what is all this money being spent on by the Ministry of Tourism instead of getting our name out there?
Now, I support the idea of getting our house in order, in the sense of restructuing the local hospitality sector. For instance, I really think we can do a lot more to develop cultural and eco tourism. And we DO need to renovate the hotels we have, and even build one or two new ones (the old Club Med site and the Par-la-ville one in particular). And I also agree with the need to develop things like the US grand slam and the Music Festival; also the St. Georges Christmas events. I don’t always agree with how these things are implemented, such as the PANAMAX cruise ships, Jumeriah and Faith-Based Fiascos. But I really don’t know why we don’t seem to be getting our name out there with television commercials and posted advertisments.
Granted, I’m trained in biology and ecological economics, not hospitality, but really, can someone please explain to me why we are being out-advertised by these other small island states?