It's one of the most popular
tourism destinations in the Cayo
District, and an important
archaeological site. And today
the Barton Creek Cave was
reopened and rededicated by
the Department of Archaeology
and the National Institute for
History and Culture in collaboration with the Belize
Tourism Board. News 5 was on hand for the
ceremonies, and to hear first hand about the
interior of the cave, as described by some Belizean
school children.

Patrick Jones, Reporting
The official opening of the Barton Creek Archaeological
Reserve marked the culmination of years of sometimes
turbulent negotiations and compromises. Minister of
Tourism Mark Espat says that given the value of the
investment, it was worth all the resources that were
spent to achieve this small victory for the country.

Mark Espat, Minister of Tourism
"At the end of the day we had to work with the Ministry
Natural Resources to acquire these five acres that would

serve as an access for Belizeans, for tour guides, for
who want to come to see the Barton Creek caves. We've
done so and as part of Tourism Week, we are launching
our brand new facilities, this landing dock, some work
on the
road, the quarters for the wardens, a pavilion,
restrooms, a
water system, and generally upgrading this area. It's
been a
very important destination for a number of years now
quietly for visitors to the Cayo District predominantly
and we
believe it has great potential for long stay overnight

But with a significant increase in the number of people
choosing to spend more time exploring the attractions,
these fragile systems must be carefully managed to
ensure their survivability. Administrator for the
National Institute of Culture and History Victor Espat
says this concern has been taken into consideration.

Victor Espat, Administrator, NICH
"The Barton Creek Cave has been used by the Cayo tour
guides and operators for many years; however the proper
facilities were not in place. And the Barton Creek tour
perhaps one of the most popular tours in this area. And
because we have the proper facilities now, I think the
guides and operators will be able to deliver a better
tour and
clearly I think that will have a positive impact on the
industry in the district."

"When the plans were going in for the opening of this
reserve, a proper management plan was devised and will
put in place to ensure that we can preserve the cave and

that the cave will be around for a long time and we'll
be able
to enjoy the cave."

Some of the first people to go into the Barton Creek
Cave after the official ribbon cutting were upper
division students of the nearby St. Hilda's Anglican
School in Georgeville. They told News 5 the experience
is one they'll never forget.

Josette Conorquie, Student, Georgeville St. Hilda
"I saw some things that were coming down. And the person

that rode us on the canoe told us that it was the
and the ones that were going up were the menorites, and
the ones that joined together were the calcium and it
very exciting."

Rasheed Hyde, Student, Georgeville St. Hilda
"I saw all kinds of stuff because me and my friends we
enjoying it and the water was nice and everything. And
man taught us all kinds of things like what Josette just

explained to you. And he taught us everything and how
shouldn't go into a cave that is dusty for you might
diseases and so. And you must go well prepared."

Patrick Jones
"Have you ever been in a cave before?"

Rasheed Hyde
"No sir."

Patrick Jones
"And you enjoyed this one?"

Rasheed Hyde
"Yes sir."

Patrick Jones
"Would you go back in there?"

Rasheed Hyde
"Yes sir."

Benjamin Flowers, Student, Georgeville St. Hilda
"I saw many stalactites and stalagmites, and the tour
told me that there are fish and spiders that have no
and so it was an interesting trip."

Patrick Jones
"Have you ever been in a cave before?"

Benjamin Flores
"Yes. I've been in this one, three times already."

Patrick Jones
"Why did you go in there three times, do you like it
that much?"

Benjamin Flores
"Yes it's just interesting and it could teach you a

It is that child-like inquisitiveness that officials at
NICH are hoping will draw a steady stream of visitors
to the site. Tourism Minister Mark Espat says over a
hundred thousand dollars were spent to get the site
ready for today's opening and that adequate measures
have been put in place to ensure that visitors walk
away with only pleasant memories.

Mark Espat, Minister of Tourism
"There are specific carrying capacities for all of the
attractions such as the Maya temples, such as the
parks. We have tried to work with all the stakeholders,
civil society, with the NGOs, with the Audubon Society
manages some of these parks, as well as with the new
Institute of Archaeology. If a site for example has a
capacity of two hundred or a hundred and fifty, or three

hundred visitors per day then the tourism police unit is
enforcing that carrying capacity, that limitation. We
that there are enough sites in Belize to be able to
offer the
exclusivity, the aura of exclusivity to the long stay
visitors who pay a premium for that exclusivity and to
able to offer the closer sites to Belize City since the
time is
very tight for the cruise visitors. We're working on
developing some more sites and certainly on enforcing
carrying capacity."

And while there will not doubt be a snappy advertising
campaign designed to keep tours at this site at near
peak capacity, perhaps the best reason to come to the
Barton Creek Caves is summarized by this Standard
Six student.

Benjamin Flowers
"Well its really exciting and you might can't bathe now,
when you come it might be a good day to swim or and it
be a good day to go caving."

Entrance to the cave is ten dollars and tickets must
be purchased at either the Cahal Pech Museum in
San Ignacio or the Institute of Archaeology in
Belmopan. You must be accompanied by a licensed
tour guide or you will not be allowed inside the