BELIZE, July 6, 2014 – Eco-Tourism started as a way to guide visitors on low-impact trips to undisturbed natural areas. It was very expensive and often took small groups on rather vigorous trips that were low impact, high education.
Today Eco-Tourism is as often as not about larger scale education and The Cayo Tour Guide Association (CTGA) is working with Belize hotels and resorts to create yearly Eco Tourism educational camps for children ages 12-14.
Joe Awe, president of the Cayo Tour Guide Association said that the summer camp is about “legacy” as well as an opportunity that will give the young participants a better understanding of the land, history and the ability to create “dreams”.
Tourism is a leading source of economic growth for Belize and the need for guides that can knowledgeably take tourists to places that need to be protected, and explained, is a goal for Belize and Joe Awe.
The program has more than 150 tour guides holding the first ever tourism eco camp in the Cayo District of Belize on July 27th 2014. Some of the activities that have been organized by the tour guide association include horseback riding, caving, botany, hiking, bird watching, canoeing and archaeology.
Children will participate in learning through games and projects as well as tour Maya sites, caves and other heritage environments.
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Awe says that the program required travel community investments – the planning of the camps, inviting hotel and other stakeholders to participate via investment and donating “raffle prizes” used to increase awareness and raise money. Taking the program to the resorts that will provide the tours space, but also provide infrastructure – such as meals to the campers.
“What good is a great organization, whether for profit or not, if it does not invest in a social option which not only will help and engage the future of this country but also allow guides to celebrate their decisions to become guides in the first place,” Awe told me when I asked him why their association decided to run a summer camp.
“More than $19,000 will be spent in this year’s summer camp and the funds were made possible by a number of resorts and hoteliers in the area like Cahal Pech Village Resort, Turtle Inn, Blancaneux Lodge, and Banyan Bay he added.
The camp ends on August 2nd, 2014 and talks are already under way to see if next summer the association can run two camps – one for kids between the ages of 12-14 and the other for kids between the ages of 15-17.