For those living in Belize, there is the chance to visit some of the nationÂs fantastic archaeological sites. Â However, the infrastructure has been in need of improvement for some time. Â On February 12th, a small groundbreaking ceremony was held as work finally began to provide both residents and visitors with better and safer access to sites.
As part of the Making Tourism Benefit Communities Adjacent to Archaeological Sites (MTBCAAS) project, the first work will start in the Belize District at Altun Ha. Â The occasion was marked with a small ceremony that paid tribute to the funding from the Belizean Government and the European Union. Â Addressing those who had attended the ceremony, Paola Amadei, the European Union (EU) Ambassador, said: ÂIt is a symbolic event as this EU funded project aims on one side to improve the experience of tourists visiting the archaeological sites AND as well promotes employment and better opportunities in the communities in the proximity of the archaeological site. Â This project has the component of promoting community development.Â
After work has been completed, those visiting Altun Ha will be able to enjoy a newly refurbished tourist center that includes audiovisual equipment. Â Walking trails, seating areas and a gentlemenÂs bathroom are also to be constructed. Â KIKOS Engineering Services will be carrying out the improvements after winning the $255,583.41 project. Â The work is expected to be completed quickly, with the first visitors to enjoy the improvements arriving in July 2014.
There are nine archaeological sites in all, which are in need of improvement. Â In addition to Altun Ha, Nohoch CheÂen, Barton Creek, Nim Li Punit, Xunantunich, Lamanai, Lubaantun, Blue Creek and Actun Tunichil Muknal will all have new services provided. Â The objectives of the MTBCAAS are to improve the economic opportunities made available to those living in rural districts while enhancing the experiences that tourists enjoy. Â Archaeological sites will be measured for their monitoring systems, health and safety provisions and tourism-based services and products, with the appropriate changes made.
If all goes according to plan, visitors to BelizeÂs ancient sites and monuments, as well as those living in and around them, will be able to benefit from the latest initiative.