|Jan Brown at the Marco Gonzalez site. |
Ecotourism, according to world renowned National Geographic Society, refers to tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place – its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents. Geotourism incorporates the concept of sustainable tourism, in the sense that destinations should remain unspoiled for future generations while allowing for enhancement that protects the character of the locale. That’s exactly what project visionary Jan Brown hopes for the undeveloped Marco Gonzalez Mayan Site located on south Ambergris Caye.
It’s a project that requires much financial assistance to get off the ground. For this very reason Brown has entered the Marco Gonzalez Site into the National Geographic “GeoTourism Challenge 2009.” The Geotourism Challenge 2009 is being celebrated under the theme “Power Of Place; Sustaining the Future of Destinations.” An important part of the entry is input from the general public, the more visits and comments posted, the more opportunity the site has to be considered. After a group of panelists review the entries and comments on July 15th, the list will be narrowed down to about 10 to 15 and voting will start. Voting ends on August 12th and there is a grand prize of US$5,000 for the top three winners which are expected to be used to help implement their proposed project. There are 611 entries from 81 countries; three of those entries are from Belize including the Marco Gonzalez Maya Site. Winners will be announced on September 9th.
But there is more than just the Geotourism Challenge. If a project falls within Latin America and the Caribbean; it may qualify for co-financing opportunity offered by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF). MIF, through its Sustainable Tourism Cluster (STC), has signed partnership agreements with National Geographic and Ashoka Changemakers aiming to promote and support geotourism. They will select and co-finance 20 projects from institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean proposed through the Geotourism Challenge 2009. MIF co-financing ranges from US$ 300,000 to $500,000 per project. To be eligible for MIF STC financing, applicants must submit a project proposal as part of the Geotourism Challenge 2009.
To visit and leave a comment you can visit www.changemakers.com. Find the red arrows with the boxes in between. Put your cursor over each box until you find the GeoTourism Challenge and click on it. On the left side you will find a section that has the “entries”. Click on “entries list” and all 611 entries will open. In the menu, click on “country” and it will alphabetize all entries by country. On top of page three is the entry for the Belize “Marco Gonzalez Maya Site Project”. Be sure to visit the website and leave your comments, you can be a part of making a dream come true that will benefit La Isla Bonita for decades to come.