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Apr 30, 2015

Hamanasi and Tourism in Hopkins

Tourism is a top foreign exchange earner and is also one of the largest contributors to Belize’s Gross Domestic Product, the GDP. Roughly speaking, it accounts for twenty-five percent of GDP, directly contributing over six hundred million dollars annually. According to the Belize Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism, one in every four Belizeans directly depends on tourism; that’s thousands of Belizean breadwinners. So when it comes to Hopkins, an up and coming tourist destination with a population of close to two thousand, the impact is far-reaching. Duane Moody was in the south and reports on what is happening in the village.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Tourism destinations in Belize…immediately San Pedro, Ambergris Caye or Placencia would come to mind. But the local travel industry extends to other destinations. There is cruise and overnight tourism; and there is also tourism in respect of culture, the environment and even food/cuisine.

One location that offers that diverse, one-of-a-kind experience is Hopkins.

The village on the central coast of southern Belize is predominantly home to the Garinagu and is a unique cultural destination with a population of approximately fifteen hundred people. But it would seem that Hopkins is readily becoming a hot commodity within the industry, as investors have taken keen interest in the quaint village.

 

Dave Krauskopf

Dave Krauskopf, Owner, Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort

“In 2000, we opened with twelve rooms and bit by bit, each year, we just keep making it better and improving it and now we are up to twenty-five rooms today and double the size of our Great House, which we are celebrating today at our opening party of our ten thousand foot Great House. So it has just been a steady progress of growing the business from that time.”

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism

“Hamanasi…It has been known as an eco-destination. They have won several awards from Trip Advisory and other reputable organizations and we have seen that Hamanasi ever since has catered to high class, high end tourists and what they are doing now in the expansion is because they have the market now. But Belize overall has so many products to offer.”

 

Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort is one of several resorts in the village. Aside from its newly renovated guest house, it offers luxury suites and tree houses; a getaway for couples and the family. The resort is renowned internationally for its sea adventure tours to the atolls in Belize, its acres of stunning beach and coastal littoral forest, as well as its award-winning customer service brand.

 

Kirsty Roberts

Kirsty Roberts, General Manager, Hamanasi

“Hamanasi is a very unique resort. We’ve been in operation for fifteen years. What sets us apart is that we give amazing customer service. We are very customer service orientated. We are a romantic destination. We have beach and we have jungle.”

 

Terrill Castillo

Terrill Castillo, Assistant Manager, Adventure Center, Hamanasi

“Hamanasi offers both marine tours and inland tours. When it comes to the marine tours, we do local diving to the South Water Caye Marine Reserve and we also offer dive trips within the South Water Caye Marine Reserve. Also the unique location of Hamanasi offers the three atolls when it comes to diving and snorkeling; that Turneffe Caye Atoll, Lighthouse Reef Atoll where the famous Blue Hole is and our popular atoll trip is to Glover’s Reef Atoll. We also offer tours when it comes to inland to all Mayan sites. Our famous zip-lining tour that is done by Buckawina and we also do kayaking, jaguar reserve and ATM, which is our most popular specialty tour offered by Hamanasi.”

 

Simply put, tourism is the lifeline of Hopkins. Currently, over one hundred locals are employed by Hamanasi are from the surrounding communities of Hopkins, Silk Grass and Maya Center. Most have been working with the resort for over five years.

 

Jacqueline Gamboa

Jacqueline Gamboa, Housekeeping Manager, Hamanasi

“I’ve been here since the beginning. I started as a normal housekeeper, then I went to housekeeping supervisor and I went to manager. It has been very challenging, but it is great with all the good staff and managers here and all the training that we have been getting, it’s been good, real good.”

 

Dave Krauskopf

“The type of tourists that come to Belize and that come here in particular, part of their experience that they appreciate is the local people…there is no doubt about it. And so something as simple as going to the village of Hopkins and talking to the local people there or seeing a local drumming presentation; that’s a big part of their vacation experience and one thing we do that is pretty unique here is that we tell our staff that even if you are raking the beach, if a customer or guest wants to talk, talk to them because they want to know you or know about you and your culture and background.”

 

For some time now, the Caribbean has been looking at cuisine as a tourism product; essentially making cultural food gourmet. The village is home to 2012’s Chef of the Year, Marcia Nunez, who has been working as head chef at Hamanasi for fifteen years. With the launch of the new “Singanga” Restaurant at the resort, Chef Nunez spoke of reinventing food, while keeping the cultural heritage alive.

 

Marcia Nunez

Marcia Nunez, Chef, Singanga Restaurant

“My cooking style I would say is a bit of a local and international cuisine twist like. Usually we do the local food and present it in a way that it doesn’t look really local. It will be the same ingredients, the same taste, the same flavor, but it is usually the way we plate it and present it.”

 

The launch of the newly refurbished Guesthouse and Singanga restaurant was held over the weekend with various performances from the Lirahuna Satuye Group and the Omalewa Osain Project. A tour of its new roof top deck would top off the event as lanterns were released into the sunset.  Duane Moody for News Five.

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1 Response for “Hamanasi and Tourism in Hopkins”

  1. CEO says:

    Tourism does not do much for a country if it is not managed well.

    The airlines that bring them in are foreign owned.
    The hotels and resorts are foreign owned and operated (just look at the pictures above).
    The damage to the natural resources in never measured.
    The beaches in Hopkins are being washed out to sea due to the absence of any shoreline protection plans.
    The villages does not have the infrastructure to provide for the increased foot traffic, the increase garbage, the increase waste.
    There are no real waste water treatment facilities in these villages.
    All the profits are leaving the country and there are no re-investments.

    We need leaders who will start thinking and be wise enough to rely on those with the necessary skill sets.

    It took thousands of years to get what we have and only one or two generations to waste it away. Wake up and think.

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