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Apr 5, 2016

What’s the Future of Dark Night Cave Tours?

The way forward for Paumen, Modiri and Dark Night caves seems fraught with obstacles, even with the judgment handed down in the Supreme Court today. Modiri claims that in an ideal scenario, access to the caves would be opened up to local tour operators so that one man doesn’t make all the money. It sounds good, and for sure the idea will appeal to small tour operators who have consistently claimed that tourism fortune favors only the large and well-connected groups like Dark Night. Still, this tangled web is unlikely to unravel with the greatest of ease, so where Dark Night caves are concerned, the future is still very much uncertain.


Michael Modiri

Michael Modiri, Awarded Compensation

“We can co-exist. If you look when the cruise ships come and go to Cancun or go to Roatan thousands and thousands of passengers have plenty of options for tours. They come to Belize and there is only one or two. We can offer more. We can do more. We don’t need to be competing with each other. We need to be competing with other countries and bring more business to Belize. But his intention is to forget about what benefit we can provide to Belize…what can he do for his pocket, and for his pocket means that other tour operators have to be blocked out and that’s the problem. It’s not me…other tour operators have been blocked out forever. They’re not allowed in the caves. If we can come to a mutual co-existence that I can coexist, I can run my tours. You run your tours. We open the door to other tour operators, locals, to make some money too…why does all the money have to go to his pocket or my pocket? They are Belizeans… let them run the tours there too.”


Nazira Myles

Nazira Myles, Attorney for Michael Modiri

“He cannot legally tell them they can use the caves. They need to seek permission from the government. What he can do is offer up his land, the road that is being used, and say pay me a fee and you can use it. However although he can do so they will face the same problem that he has been facing…that to access the road you must first pass Sibun Grain and Cattle Limited property…which as you heard the easement was denied so if it was denied to him who is saying he needs to access my road, it won’t be opened up to the others, so unless that part of Mr. Paumen’s property is made public…which we contacted the Ministry of Natural Resources and asked them to do so…they have not done so yet – it’s point four of a mile. Unless that is made public then no one other than Mr. Paumen can access those caves.”

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