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#423335 - 11/27/11 01:43 PM Sell Archaeological Tourism
Marty Online   happy
Dear Editor:

I had the good fortune to visit the Acropolis in Athens, Greece last week, and was stunned at just how much tourism revenue this one archeological site generates. The Parthenon in the Acropolis is easily one of the most famous and identifiable structures in the world.

The great Sphinx of Egypt, the Colosseum of Rome, Stonehenge in England, and the Great Wall of China are ALSO on the list of easily identifiable structures. People who have never set foot at any of those places can still point them out to you in pictures. The mere mention of their names conjures up glorious images of grand civilizations rich with stories of fascinating kings and kingdoms, mythical and mystical heroes, amazing gods and goddesses, brave warriors and their captives, impressive art and culture, and yes, incredible architecture that defies our wildest imaginations.

In short, archeological tourism sells .. BIG time!

Belize is a nation covered from north to south, east to west with ancient Mayan sites. We are sitting on a veritable tourism gold mine. The Popul Vuh, sacred book of the ancient Maya, sizzles with the story of how Itzamna created the Mayas, and then taught them how to raise maize, how to write, how to keep a calendar, and how to heal people. For all the right reasons, ancient Mayan history, culture, and civilization, should be at the forefront of our tourism strategy. Our Mayan history is no less fascinating or jaw-dropping than Greek, Chinese or Roman history. They just market theirs better. And we do nothing to tap into this gold mine.

If you type the words "ancient Greece" into Google, you get tens of millions of responses. Yet, if you Google "ancient Maya Belize", there are less than half a million results. If we want to increase tourism in any substantial way, we need to do a complete paradigm shift in the way we market Belize. We need to become "Belize: Homeland of the Ancient Maya" and get rid of that failed marketing slogan "Mother Nature's Best Kept Secret". At the very least, a good start would be to once and for all declare a MAYAN DAY.

Of course, with this racist, anti-Mayan government in place loaded with principals who prefer to pretend that we don't have Mayas in Belize, or if we do, that they are not "real", or if they are real, that they are not human, such a suggestion is like swimming upstream?. But at least the suggestion deserves mention and some contemplation. So there it is, my 2 cents worth...for all its worth.

Wendy Auxillou

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#423338 - 11/27/11 01:47 PM Re: Sell Archaeological Tourism [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
Yes Wendy is right-on two counts. First that we do not make anything
like enough of our Mayan heritage. Yes, our MAYAN heritage I feel
sometimes we forget that we are nearly all newcomers to Belize
compared to the Mayans, who predate us all by several thousand years.

The Brits (ok pirates and cutthroats) were first here pushing the
Mayan indians back. Then came the Creoles, Garifuna and people of
Spanish descent etc all of us in the past 400 years or so
So Belizean history STARTS with the Maya and their civilisation.
And why has Mayan civilisation failed to attract world interest (via
tourism) that the Roman,Greek, Egyptian and other ancient cultures
have enjoyed? The reason frankly is that Roman, Greek and Egyptian
cultures helped form our modern day world. In architecture, in art, in
literature and in science ancient Greece and ancient Egypt (and even
ancient Iraq ) have made huge contributions to our own society. where
is the Mayan Aristotle? or Virgil? Where are the roads? the viaducts
etc still to be found around the former Roman empire?

The truth is that the Maya have made little contribution outside their
communities. Badly treated? Persecuted ? perhaps but the fact remains.
The second point Wendy makes is also right. The lamentable failure of
the BTB. She is dead right saying that the slogan "mother nature's
best kept secret" is tired and failed. It is.

Perhaps a separate topic could examine how we come to have entrusted
our national tourism promotion to a bunch of self-serving people with
no idea about marketing.

For the moment however lets just say that I for one would welcome a
re-focussing on our heritage, where I believe we do have something
fresh to say. Preferably starting with some honesty about the Crystal
Skull!

Chris Harris

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#423352 - 11/27/11 04:19 PM Re: Sell Archaeological Tourism [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
Re-enactment financing of Mayan temple pyramid in Belize sacrifice.

Wendy´s post on the Greek temples and tourism numbers is a wake up call for Belize.

For decades I have put on the listserve, that we require a re-enactment, during the tourist high seasons, at Cahel Pech, 3500 year old, Mayan pyramid temple.

I´ve seen these both in the U.K. also in Canada, and in the USA. They are stupendous tourist affairs. Well worth seeing. I loved them and was very impressed.

I have no idea, how to go about finding the financing for such re-enactments to be held at Cahel Pech, Mayan pyramid. You would have to hire probably 200 people for 12 weeks, have costumes made, do rehearsals, all for a six week season in the winter and another six weeks in the summer. Perhaps in Easter for three weeks also.
I would imagine you could charge an admission as CAHEL PECH is fenced.

Just for the six week winter season on a daily basis, the cost would run $604,800 in salaries. Costumes would run another $30,000. Though they would be reusable for other performances.

Many times, I´ve run the fiscal scenario done myself, since I could not get any interest locally for financing. Certainly I cannot afford such a thing. These are conservative cost estimates for a working budget. It would take several years, to become a classic tourist draw. So you could expect say, a deficit for around three years. The boost to Belize tourism would be exponential and out of sight.

Ray Auxillou

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