Thursday saw the ground breaking ceremony to mark infrastructure improvements under a European Union supported project titled “Making Tourism Benefit Communities Adjacent to Archaeological Sites.” It’s an initiative to afford infrastructure development along with other training and marketing activities at nine archaeological sites: Xunantunich, Nohoch Che’en (Caves Branch), Altun Ha, Nim Li Punit, Barton Creek, Lubantuun, Actun Tunichil Muknal, Lamanai and Blue Creek. Thursday’s ceremony was held on the Altun Ha grounds; there, UN Ambassador Paola Amadei, delved into the specifics of the project.
H. E. Paola Amadei- Ambassador of the European Union
“It is to mark the beginning of the work in 9 different archaeological sites (among them, Altun Ha), and the activities are of various nature. In first place, we see the upgrading or creation of the visitor centers, the upgrading of sanitary facilities, the opening or improvement of paths for tourists, training of guides in order to give them a very complete background, not just in archaeology, but also on the flora, fauna and history of the country; also the upgrading of the capacity of the local artisan, so that they can better adapt their products to the demands of tourism”.
Ambassador Amadei says that the objective is to promote tourism in Belize, but also to fashion an environment for visitors to enjoy. It is part of a larger EU program – The Belize Rural Development Program whose objective is to improve living conditions and provide opportunities for rural communities across the country. With countless contributions to the development of Belize, already in its coffers, Ambassador Amadei conveys the EU’s hope for yet another series of successful projects.
H. E. Paola Amadei
“I think it is important to stress that the European Union, in the course of 2013, has disbursed in Belize, over EU14m of grants which translate into BZ $38m, and we hope and we expect that we will be able to have a similar amount of disbursement in the course of 2014, and even more importantly, we hope to be able to see the completion of the work in the different sites, so that for the next major tourism season, the visitor can benefit from the improved facilities and the community can benefit from the better preparation to serve a world class tourism”.
Other initiatives under this program includes a partnership agreement with PAHO to boost health care in rural communities and an Accompanying measures for Sugar Program, which will see a cooperation with La Immaculada Credit Union.