Sightseeing in the old capital is a favourite activity for visitors to the Jewel. The visitors learn about Belize’s colonial past as well as its modern history from tour guides, who take them through the city mainly on horse and carriage rides. To boost their knowledge of our history, the Belize Tourism Board facilitated a short training course for the guides. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
“A horse and buggy ride is a great means of sightseeing. It also a favorite of cruise tourists wishing to learn a brief history of the Old Capital. But have you ever stopped and wondered how it’s done? The lessons that these tour guides need to learn in order to take you guys and, of course, the tourists visiting Belize on an expedition to find out all about Belize’s historic past.”
For many visiting our shores, a tour of Belize City can be bought just about anywhere within the Fort George Tourism Zone. A journey through the streets by horse and carriage is a voyage through time as these certified guides revisit various tourist attractions.
Meet Kirk Craig, a licensed chaperon whose wealth of knowledge in Belizean history is nothing short of remarkable.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Belize. Thanks for choosing Belize By Carriage. Okay I’ll start off this tour by saying this entire area that we are all at right now is known as the Fort George Area.”
Craig is among a number of Belize City tour guides who were today accredited by the Belize Tourism Board for participating in a crash course on the Jewel and its storied past.
“Most of the houses you see around here are old colonial structures. The B.E.C., the Belize Estate & Company use to once reside in this house right here, as well as the Great House was one of the first colonial mansions in Belize City as well. The B.E.C. was the company that use to export all the raw chewing gum, chicle, to England.”
Like his colleagues he is a student of Fred Hunter, a well known Belizean who has spent countless hours researching people, places and events in Belize.
“I told them first how Belize got its name. How Belize came to exist. Who founded the Settlement of Belize [because] there are a lot of stories going around? All my historical pronouncements are backed up by positive evidence. Then I showed them how Belize City grew and the famous buildings in Belize and it was closely built around those four things so they get to know the city of Belize but you have to know your country too.”
…and learning about the country was the most important aspect of the training. For Sherema Forman the opportunity for her guides to expand their knowledge of history goes a long way in teaching their guests about Belize.
Sherema Forman, Belize Horse & Carriage Tours
“Well we know that knowledge is very important and in order to impart that to the guests it needs to be done in a very structured way and entertaining for cruise ship passengers that are coming on the cruise ships. So in order for that to be displayed and to have consistency or good feedback from our guests we have to, it is very important for us to get training and to keep up training as the years go along because information changes or new information is needed to be added and also we want to keep current with the times.”
Doing so meant that this class had to sit through an intense session on everything Belizean which when coupled with Craig’s gift of gab also makes for an interesting crash course in the country’s history.
“This is the Fisheries Department right. The Fisheries Department or the people that control the rules and regulations of fishing within our country, right, because in our country if you don’t know it, it’s just like in your country where you have hunting season. We have what you call lobster season and shrimp season and when the season is closed you cannot catch shrimps and lobster. That’s a very big no-no.”
At the end of the course participants received a certificate from the Belize Tourism Board qualifying them for municipal tours. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.