The Belize Tourism Board launched the Making Tourism Benefit Communities Adjacent to Archaeological Sites project in March 2013. Yesterday, under that BTB concluded a three day training with artisans in the Orange Walk District on how to place added value to the products that are marketed at surrounding archaeological sites. Geraldo Flowers, Policy Coordinator, told us more about the project’s objectives.
Geraldo Flowers – Policy Coordinator
“The project in totality aims to improve economic conditions through tourism for people who live around archaeological sites in Belize. We have around 333,000 tourist that visits Belize every year and millions of dollars are spent by these tourist in the industry and we want to make sure that communities surrounding Lamanai, communities surrounding the Xunantunich in Cayo, communities surrounding Nim Li Punit and Lubantun in Toledo also benefit from the largest of these tourism dollars that are coming to Belize.”
And it is through a series of trainings like the one concluded yesterday afternoon at the Banquitas House of Culture, that the BTB hopes to achieve this. This part of the project is targeting artisans, tour guides, persons who work at the sites, food vendors and others who can potentially become self-employed within the Tourism Industry.
Geraldo Flowers – Policy Coordinator
“One of the ways is by the direct small business and product development training but we are also developing catalogues, we are developing brochures, we are developing artisan profiles so that we can share these profiles with the Belize Tourism Board with the National Institute of Culture and History with the cruise ship themselves so that visitors become cognizant of the fact that we have wonderful Belizean artist in the Belize that make genuine Belizean products and we want to be able to isolate these products by enhancing them and making them the best possible products that visitors would be able to find when they come to the archaeological sites, the hotels or the tourism village, so we want to enhance locally made Belizean made artisan products.”
One of the facilitators is Danielle Viscarra. She is a craft expert and says that persons living in these communities display a great deal of talent and creativity. It only needs to be refined and properly marketed, something participants have come to appreciate.
Danielle Viscarra – Facilitator
“The talent is here, the ideas, the innovation and the materials are here but I think it needs to have a more consistent presentation and also some innovation in terms of the function of the products because sometimes there are very beautiful carvings or embroiders but they really have a clean function for the buyer so I think that in that manner those switch will enhance that but of course my way to work as a designer is that I enhance the creativity also from the point of view of the artisan because it is something about the culture and the identity so it is not just a new thing to sell better.”
Leticia Meza – Participant
“They gave us a lot of tools and ideas, we have been working on something but until somebody else come and tell us that you can do this or you can improve in this area then your mind is open more to do things that the people want. And these are ideas that I will willingly adopt into my work.”
Berta Ruano – Participant
“Claro que si mucho porque en este taller estamos viendo que estamos atrasado porque en nuestros productos pues nos falta como empaquetarlos, etiquetarlos, tiene su pequeña etiqueta pero no es lo suficiente porque ellos nos están aconsejando de que debe de tener parte de la historia de donde escriba parte de la cultura de nuestro país y entonces eso no lo tiene pero ahora con este taller nosotros lo vamos a implementar.”
The four million dollar project will be implemented in about 32 villages across the country. 2.5 million dollars of the funds will be invested in the enhancement of eight targeted archaeological sites within the country, one of them being Lamanai in the Orange Walk District. The project is being funded by the EU and the government of Belize through the Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation. The project is scheduled to conclude in November of 2018.
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