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Making Tourism Benefit Communities Adjacent to Archaeological Sites, it's a project spearheaded by the European Union And The Government Of Belize - and it is being implemented at 9 sites across Belize. The idea is that the facilities will be upgraded to benefit Artisans Groups, Women's Groups and other small community entities.

This week, the Head of Delegation for the European Union to Belize, Ambassador Paola Amadei is visiting and she got to attend an official groundbreaking ceremony at the Altun Ha site. She explained the importance:..

Construction works are to commence immediately at Altun Ha and the first item to be finished will be the existing Visitor's Centre.

The programme also includes training and marketing and the sites to be impacted are: Xunantunich, Nohoch Che'en, Altun Ha, Nim Li Punit, Barton Creek, Lubaantun, Actun Tunichil Muknal, Lamanai and Blue Creek.

Channel 7

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Artisans Making Tourism Work

Last year we told you about a project called "Making Tourism Benefit Communities Adjacent to Archaeological Sites". It is a project to teach Belizean producers how to make crafts that are genuine products of Belize. The $350,000 dollar project which has been awarded to a Caribbean consultant is being done in different segments. One such segment is diversification of the artisan product that is available in Belize - both physical products as well as experiential tourism. Artisans from around the country were selected to take part in the first stage of the training.

Judy Karwacki - Tourism Project Specialist
"The project has essentially a few key steps to it; the first was a rapid assessment, where we came in and working on 9 archaeological sites. So we've gone and we went into this area around Altun Ha and then up in Orange Walk because they've got Lamanai and Barton Creeek in these things - Cayo, because of Xunantunuch - Caves Branch, ATM etc. and Punta Gorda with Nim Li Punit, Lubaantun and Blue Creek. We went in and we met with community members and artisans and we did what we called a rapid assessment and based on that process and with the input of local coordinators, we engage people from the community who works with artisans, we select artisans or artisans groups to come to the first stage of training because in many cases we are taking a group approach because group supports each other and we told them to bring people."

"The first stage of training is two and a half days what we called small business training. It includes improving their professionalism, their entrepreneurship as well as enhancing product design and in the second stage is going to be an advanced product development stage where artisans (possibly all of them, but definitely we are looking for ones that have high levels of performance and ability) will be selected for more training on one and one basis and they will do that for the next 6 months."

Dennis Hecker - Artisan
"I've been an artist for 20 years sculpturing in the hard woods that grows in the northern part of the country."

Geovannu Brackett, reporter
"You have any particular wood that you specialize in or you used pretty much various different kinds of woods?"

Dennis Hecker - Artisan
"Two of the favorite woods for most artist is that area has been the zericote and the granadilla, but I'm the artist that works in the area with all the woods from the very soft ones."

Geovanni Brackett
"Can you tell us your experience of the first day of the workshop?"

Dennis Hecker - Artisan
"It was very enlightening, the lady that is presenting the workshop has done an excellent job."

Geovanni Brackett
"What it is specifically you like - like in terms of you are learning a little bit about the business side of it and how to improve your quality?"

Dennis Hecker - Artisan
"Product presentation, marketing, how we could display your work better, what to make, what is in demand and what type of wood you use."

The second stage of training will be an advance product development stage which will be done in a 6 month period.

Channel 7

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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

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

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."

Duane Moody

"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?"

Daniela Viscarra

"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."

Channel 5

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BTB Holds Training With Artisans On How To Market Their Products Surrounding Archaeological Sites

Screen_Shot_2014-03-04_at_8.12.28_PMThe Belize Tourism Board launched the Making Tourism Benefit Communities Adjacent to Archaeological Sites project in March 2013. Yesterday, under that BTB concluded a three day training with artisans in the Orange Walk District on how to place added value to the products that are marketed at surrounding archaeological sites. Geraldo Flowers, Policy Coordinator, told us more about the project's objectives.

Geraldo Flowers - Policy Coordinator

"The project in totality aims to improve economic conditions through tourism for people who live around archaeological sites in Belize.  We have around 333,000 tourist that visits Belize every year and millions of dollars are spent by these tourist in the industry and we want to make sure that communities surrounding Lamanai, communities surrounding the Xunantunich in Cayo, communities surrounding Nim Li Punit and Lubantun in Toledo also benefit from the largest of these tourism dollars that are coming to Belize."

And it is through a series of trainings like the one concluded yesterday afternoon at the Banquitas House of Culture, that the BTB hopes to achieve this. This part of the project is targeting artisans, tour guides, persons who work at the sites, food vendors and others who can potentially become self-employed within the Tourism Industry.

Geraldo Flowers - Policy Coordinator

"One of the ways is by the direct small business and product development training but we are also developing catalogues, we are developing brochures, we are developing artisan profiles so that we can share these profiles with the Belize Tourism Board with the National Institute of Culture and History with the cruise ship themselves so that visitors become cognizant of the fact that we have wonderful Belizean artist in the Belize that make genuine Belizean products and we want to be able to isolate these products by enhancing them and making them the best possible products that visitors would be able to find when they come to the archaeological sites, the hotels or the tourism village, so we want to enhance locally made Belizean made artisan products."

One of the facilitators is Danielle Viscarra. She is a craft expert and says that persons living in these communities display a great deal of talent and creativity. It only needs to be refined and properly marketed, something participants have come to appreciate.

Danielle Viscarra - Facilitator

"The talent is here, the ideas, the innovation and the materials are here but I think it needs to have a more consistent presentation and also some innovation in terms of the function of the products because sometimes there are very beautiful carvings or embroiders but they really have a clean function for the buyer so I think that in that manner those switch will enhance that but of course my way to work as a designer is that I enhance the creativity also from the point of view of the artisan because it is something about the culture and the identity so it is not just a new thing to sell better."

Leticia Meza - Participant

"They gave us a lot of tools and ideas, we have been working on something but until somebody else come and tell us that you can do this or you can improve in this area then your mind is open more to do things that the people want. And these are ideas that I will willingly adopt into my work."

Berta Ruano - Participant

"Claro que si mucho porque en este taller estamos viendo que estamos atrasado porque en nuestros productos pues nos falta como empaquetarlos, etiquetarlos, tiene su peque�a etiqueta pero no es lo suficiente  porque ellos nos est�n aconsejando de que debe de tener parte de la historia de donde escriba parte de la cultura de nuestro pa�s y entonces eso no lo tiene pero ahora con este taller nosotros lo vamos a implementar."

The four million dollar project will be implemented in about 32 villages across the country. 2.5 million dollars of the funds will be invested in the enhancement of eight targeted archaeological sites within the country, one of them being Lamanai in the Orange Walk District. The project is being funded by the EU and the government of Belize through the Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation. The project is scheduled to conclude in November of 2018.


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