A workshop for artisans who work adjacent to archaeological sites
Making Tourism Benefit Communities Adjacent to Archeological Sites…It is a project that is the brainchild of the Belize Tourism Board, the National Institute of Culture and History and the European Union to enhance the product and services offered to tourists and visitors to Mayan ruins throughout the country. Two consultants are currently here in the country—a crafts and a tourism expert—to conduct a workshop with artisans. It is a welcoming gesture for the artisans says Andrea Mendez, because it teaches them how to better their product and bolster the marketing skills of participants who live near archeological sites. According to Product Development Specialist, Daniela Viscarra of Bolivia, the Belizean artisans have the talent and skills and the workshop is just to take them to an international standard.
Daniela Viscarra, Product Development Specialist
“What we did before was an assessment in December and we realized all the talent and the incredible potential that Belize artisans have. And so we are developing the project in terms of raising the quality of the products, the exhibition of the products because the talent and the quality is there, but they need to portray it in a better way what they are producing. And then making the artisans in Belize more marketable and more present for the people because sometimes it is a little confusing where the products are coming from.”
Andrea Mendez, Artisan
“Me and my husband are involved in the wood carvings and we are from Altun Ha; that’s our major point that we sell our carvings to the cruise ships and overnight visitors. From the training, it is just a few days, but I get a lot from it. First of all, I learn that there is help to improve our product right here in Belize through BELTRAIDE and other organizations. And from our visitors they are teaching us and trying to take us to that international standard which is something that we wanted years ago. Through this program and training that I’m getting, I’m learning a lot of how to improve the same product that we make and how to make new ones…lot of ideas to make the new ones to meet international standards.”
“How do you make whatever craft that you do unique to your country without of course losing the history behind it and of course not mistaking it with other countries?”
“Well it is a challenge because we want to sell our culture and we want to sell what we do as artisans and as creative people, but at the same time, we need to reach a market and the market is very competitive and needs to be current and updated with all the fashion styles and all the homemade styles in the world because the main tourists that come here, the main market for the artisans here are tourists from Canada, U.S., Europe. So the main challenge is to reach both in knowledge…what they are capable of, what their identity are as artisans as part of a unique ethnical group and portray that in products that are actually functional and appealing for our current market.”