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Mar 26, 2002

Caye Caulker full up for Easter

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Beginning Thursday afternoon thousands of Belizeans will be on the move, looking to get an early jump on the four day Easter weekend. On last night’s newscast we looked at one popular holiday destination, the village of Placencia. Today, Ann-Marie Williams travelled to the island of Caye Caulker…and returned with the following report.

Javier Novelo, Manager, Anwar Tours

“The Belizeans mostly come out here to relax, have fun, go by The Split and swim there a little.”

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting

This is the island of Caye Caulker; just forty minutes by boat from Belize City and a hot spot, both literally and figuratively for the upcoming Easter weekend. Today we journeyed to the island to see how it measures up as an Easter destination.

Our first stop was at Anwar Tours, where we found manager Javier Novelo sending off a group of tourists snorkelling.

Javier Novelo

“When it comes to snorkelling, we have all snorkelling tours offered to tourists and Belizeans alike. We have the half-day snorkelling, we have Hol Chan. We have the manatee tour, and we have inland tours if you want to do Altun Ha. So we’re offering all the tours.”

Novelo says since it’s Easter time, he wants to invite the hundreds of locals who visit the area to go on a tour.

Javier Novelo

“I think that after a hard year’s work they want to come out and relax. So mostly, they come out to just relax on the island, hang out on the island, so they don’t mostly go out on tours. But I am inviting the Belizeans to come out and do some tours and get to know our barrier reef and see what is there. A lot is out there to see so they should come out and do some tours, it’s a lot of fun out there.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“And it’s not very expensive?”

Javier Novelo

“No it’s not very expensive. For instance, the half-day tour that we offer is only twenty-five dollars Belize and you have three hours snorkelling at three different locations. You get to see corals, fish, you get to snorkel with the sharks and it’s a lot of fun, especially for the kids.”

And for those of you planning on taking the entire family for the four-day weekend, let’s hope you’ve reserved your rooms. According to Ernesto Marin of Rainbow Hotel, the island is booked-up. His hotel has no vacancy; in fact he’s talking about next year.

Ernesto Marin, Manager, Rainbow Hotel

“For next year what they would need to do, as Belizeans normally do at Maya Hotel, is book the same Easter weekend when they come, book for next year Easter. That’s what most of my people do here.”

But for people who still want to enjoy the sea, sand, sun and fun and not mind sharing a room, how about Tina’s Back Packer’s Hostel. She has accommodations.

Tina Auxillou, Owner, Backpacker’s Hostel

“I prefer to just have first come, first serve basis. If Belizeans come out this weekend and I have space, they’re more than welcome to stay at my place.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“So it’s ideal for students or maybe single people who are travelling?”

Tina Auxillou

“It is. The hostel is actually designed for young people, especially people travelling alone. It’s a great way to meet people because you always have a common area and a kitchen area. And people kind of get together and cook and they hang out. And travellers end up being friends and travelling on to other parts of Central America together, just from meeting up in a hostel. I find that happens a lot here. So it’s ideal for single people yes.”

There was a time, six months ago when the island was reeling from the effects of September eleventh and had plenty of vacancies. Luckily, according to Novelo, it has bounced back.

Javier Novelo

“Shortly after 9/11 it has affected it a lot when it comes to tourists. But we have bounced back, and it’s good now. Everyone is making some money, so we have bounced back. but it has affected us a lot during that time. It was putting a strain on us.”

Harry Dole, Owner, Oceanside Bar

“I think the tourism overall in Belize will probably benefit from 9/11. Because people don’t want to go to Europe, people want to get out of New York. We see a lot of people from New York. Business is good.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“This is the famous Split on Caye Caulker, so named because in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie devastated Belize, it split the island in two. Much has been done to restore this area to the magnificent bathing spot it once was, having been affected by Hurricane Mitch and Keith. Word on the island, however, is that this will be the venue for the greatest Easter party, stating this Thursday.

Sean McDermott, Bartender, Lazy Lizard

“Titiman, Tambran the amazing DJ. There are going to be wet T-shirt contests, Punta dancing contests for the children in the early, early hours. And in the late hours, Punta dancing for the adults. There will be food and drink all over and we’re taking up pretty much the last half of the island.”

Neil Bradley, Founder, Island’s Football Team

“Saturday night we’ll be having a big dance in the park with Electro Sound and DJ Tambran will be here with us. And then Easter Sunday morning, we’ll be having a beach party north of the Rainbow Hotel between here and The Split. So that is the main activity for the weekend.”

And for the holiday weekend, Caye Caulker is promising something for everyone, whether you’re spectators or participants.

Harry Dole

“A crazy party this weekend for all the Belizeans. We have a Punta contest Saturday night, Sunday we’re having an Easter bunny beauty contest, a hundred dollar prize for the most beautiful looking rabbit. Dancing every night, we’ve got a new soundproof door here. We’ve had some issues about the extension for the liquor licence, but I think we’re working that out. People from Belmopan coming down today to check the environment, make sure it’s safe. We have no violence, no problems here at Oceanside Bar, just a good time, a lot of laughs.”

Ann-Marie Williams for News 5.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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