The Toledo Ecotourism Association (TEA) was recently presented with the TODO '96 Award for its outstanding achievement in ecotourism. The theme for the award was "Socially Responsible Tourism" and was presented at the International Tourism Exchange (ITB) tradeshow in Berlin, Germany on March 9, 1997. The award was given to two projects with Belize’s TEA being one of them.
As Ms. Susanne Kastner (guest speaker on behalf of TODO’96) commented, "the Toledo Ecotourism Association in Belize is demonstrating the solidarity practiced among the social community of the Maya, the way they managed their affairs, and the way they take responsibility for their living sphere."
The TEA is a self help organization of 14 village associations with its headquarters in Punta Gorda, Toledo. It offers autonomously run guesthouses in each of the member villages under the leadership of its chairman, Mr. Pablo Ack. This approach to tourism is meant to improve the income and working conditions in the villages (84%)of income gained from tourism goes into the villages). The visitors are referred to various regions and complete their Mayan experience by staying at a typical Maya guesthouse and learning of their indigenous culture. A rotation system ensures that income is evenly spread to all the villages. By doing so TEA tries to create a favorable climate for the development of very small enterprises. "Tourism is therefore not seen as a substitute for the income from agricultural subsistence economy but rather as a complement to it," says Pablo Ack.
For more information on the Toledo Ecotourism Association, kindly contact Mr. Pablo Ack at 07-22531 or the Belize Tourist Board at 02-77213.