TIDE Brings Tourism to Monkey River, Punta Negra
The Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, TIDE, has been actively involved with residents in two coastal communities in northeastern Toledo District. The villages of Monkey River and Punta Negra are far-flung, the latter being only accessible by water. Their respective coordinates on the map of Belize situate them ideally between the shoreline and the dense tropical jungle. A lack of economic activity in either of the two locations, however, has forced residents to search for better opportunities elsewhere. Those who have chosen to stay are working closely with TIDE to develop an exclusive tourism product that is unrivaled in the southern part of the country. According to Caroline Oliver, Expedition Manager at Ridge to Reef Expeditions, a division of TIDE.
Caroline Oliver, Sales & Marketing, TIDE Tours
“TIDE runs a lot of programs in buffer communities to help create new sources of livelihood and income generation and in Punta Negra and Monkey River, specifically, we’ve been looking at tourism development. So in Monkey River we’ve helped to develop nature trails and trained local guides in tour guiding and in Punta Negra we’ve helped to build the restaurant here and give the ladies training in business management and organizational development, just to kind of [introduce them] to the tourism market which is growing in Belize right now.”
“These are two very small communities. I was made to understand that the population in Monkey River is about two hundred and eighty people, more or less about thirty-five families. How sustainable is such a venture for these individuals who decide that they want to go into the tourism industry? Would they need a niche or would they be able to just go full on out?”
“I think the two locations we’re looking at, Punta Negra and Monkey River, in particular, are already a niche for any tourist that wants to get off the beaten track. These are fabulous locations for people who want to view wildlife and real cultural experience. That’s a growing market in the tourism industry, so I think it’s a very sustainable future. You know, once you’re a tour guide, as well, I mean these guys, if they wanted they can go and work elsewhere but I think opportunities are just growing down here for people that are looking for something different and that’s exactly what they have down here.”
We will have a full news feature on the partnerships between TIDE and the coastal communities in introducing niche tourism to that area of Toledo during Wednesday’s newscast.