Guatemala positions as 'The Heart of the Mayan World'

GUATEMALA: In its first major PR push since 2008, Guatemala has embarked on an effort to boost its tourism market.

GUATEMALA: In its first major PR push since 2008, Guatemala has embarked on an effort to boost its tourism market. The Institute of Tourism of Guatemala (INGUAT), a government-run institution, hired the Miami-based Turkel agency as its AOR this past summer to handle PR and build a long-term strategy around its new slogan, “The Heart of the Mayan World.”

Roberto Schaps, president at Turkel explained that the leadership of INGUAT changed during 2008, closely following a new presidential election which took place in 2007. Since the shift, he said that INGUAT has been quiet on the marketing and PR front, but it recently crafted positive messaging around the country's post-election stability.

“The promotion of what Guatemala's tourism has to offer should be part of an intrinsic image of the country, one that emanates positivity in terms of democracy, safety, human rights, care for the environment, safeguarding of archaeological heritage, and respect for cultural diversity,” INGUAT stated in an e-mail translated by its agency.

In the US, the team is focusing on consumer efforts, including highlighting its revamped interactive Web site, In English and Spanish, the site encourages visitors to send digital postcards and highlights photos and YouTube video content.

The team is also in the midst of an ongoing media outreach strategy; the most recent release, for example, was related to news about the start of the cruise ship season. Press trips will also highlight topics like whale watching and religious holidays such as Day of the Dead.

Globally, the team is focusing on participation at travel trade shows, the most recent being the World Travel Market in London this November. It plans to introduce a program there about sustainable tourism in collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance and archeologist and Maya specialist Richard Hanson.

As part of a long-term strategy, the team is building positive messaging around its new Mayan-focused slogan and addressing what some consider to be a Mayan prediction for an apocalypse in 2012.

“A lot of people refer to the Mayan calendar which basically ends [in 2012],” explained Schaps. “The interpretation is that it only means that era is over but another will begin. We're building a positive message around that.”

The team is also actively posting campaign updates and new messages on Facebook and Twitter.

According to INGUAT's statement, the marketing focus is divided into North America (30%), Central America (54%), and Europe (9%).

The group worked with Porter Novelli from 2005 to 2006.

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