Department of Archaeology to develop sites in southern Belize and Marco Gonzalez site on Ambergris Caye

At the official launching of Belize's New Tourism Image, Minister of Tourism and the Environment Henry Young announced that the Belize Tourist Board (BTB) would be assisting the Department of Archaeology in the development of three new archaeological sites in the country. The sites earmarked for development are the Marco Gonzalez ruin on southern Ambergris Caye, the Mayflower site at Silk Grass in Southern Belize and the Seven Hills Sugar Mill site near Punta Gorda. The minister commented that developing the sites was part of the BTB's on going promotion of ecotourism throughout the country.

In a conversation with Commissioner of Archaeology John Morris, the Commissioner said that the Department of Archaeology has begun working in southern Belize at the Mayflower site and that a trail had been opened to the Seven Hills Sugar Mill. The department is also in the process of upgrading the southern sites of Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun. Morris explained that the development of the Mayflower, Seven Hills and Marco Gonzales sites has been "in the pipeline" for some time. The funding for the development of the sites has been allocated by the European Economic Community. The BTB will also assist financially. Commissioner Morris said the department most recently had focused on developing the Caracol, Lamanai and Altun Ha sites and now would commence with the projects in the south and north, including upgrading Cerros which is located near Corozal.

Morris will meet with Director of Tourism, Kevin Gonzalez next week to appraise the Marco Gonzalez site. It is also expected that Dr. Elizabeth Graham, who originally excavated the site, will return this summer and participate in the planning to open Marco Gonzalez to the public.

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