Tourists visiting Belize are always looking to pick up trinkets, curious – or what we locally would call arts and crafts. But, too often, those
products which are emblazoned with the word Belize on it can be made in China, or worse, Guatemala.
The project called “Making Tourism Benefit Communities Adjacent to Archeological Sites” is trying to change that by creating a Belizean umbrella brand
for genuine, locally produced crafts that have high standard and legit indigenous credentials.
It’s called the Unique Belize brand and it was launched this morning at the Princess Hotel. The organizer of the initiative explains that the artwork
has to meet three criteria which he outlined:
Geraldo Flowers - Project Coordinator
"You see here today is a culmination of, I would say 6 to 8 months of work, training and mentorship for artisans, particularly artisans who come from
communities around archeological sites. These are primarily rural artisans, they represent regions from all over the country and they are here today to
present their products, their prototypes; And to display the type of wonderful products Belizeans, truly authentic Belizeans can create as artists and
can sell in Belize, the region and around the world. Benefits of the programme are many fold. First we want to make sure the artisans look at
themselves as small business people and they learn how to manage their finances, how to manage their businesses and how to manage their artistry as a
business. We also wanted them to understand how to enhance the product development of the prototypes themselves and thirdly we want them to understand
markets. Not only the market near to them, but also the market nationally, regionally and around the world; And we want BTB and NICH to help them to
market their products in Belize and elsewhere. It is important to educate and we want to use these artisans as models. There are hundreds perhaps
thousands of artisans in Belize. The ones featured here are by no means the onrly artisans or even the best ones. There are other artisans out there
who are equally as good and we want to showcase Belizean artisans so they can encourage others to come and be apart of the efforts that BTB and NICH
will be leading in the future, to brand and certify authentic Belizean products and authentic Belizean artisans.”
Maria Garcia, Artist
"We do a little of everything. We do sculpturing since 1981 and we do medicinal remedies, medicinal tours as well and we do a lot of Mayan cleansing.
Right now we are here because we a part of this launching of new products close to adjacent archeological sites, so that's why we are here. I think
it's a good idea, something that is unique and it's so good see a lot of talent in our country and a lot of our artisans, to meet them, to be a long
with them and to see the new products we have in Belize. Since we a part of this project, taking our heeling seeds and turning them into unique
jewellery, it's very amazing.”
The display continues today at the King’s Room of the Ramada and it is open to the public.