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Jun 2, 1999

Maskall Village promotes tourism

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Once upon a time Bermudian Landing, Crooked Tree, Placencia, Caye Caulker and even San Pedro were sleepy little villages. Now they attract both local and foreign visitors who want to enjoy their charms. Well a move is underway to help another village smack in the middle of the tourist circuit to put out their welcome mat. Arreini Palacio reports from this all too often forgotten gem in the Belize District.

It’s located at mile thirty-nine on the Old Northern Highway, just a stone’s throw away from the Altun Ha Maya site. With a population of just over eight hundred people, the village of Maskall rarely makes the news, but it came alive on Saturday with live performances, food and all out fun in it’s first ever country fest.

Arreini Palacio

“There is much more to Maskall than just food and entertainment. The once sleepy village on the Old Northern Highway is growing with the help of tourism and the villagers anticipate more growth in the coming years.”

Granville Garnett, Resident

“Things happen slow and it takes its time but the main thing happening now is tourism.”

Because it’s on the way to Altun Ha, Maskall villagers are trying to take advantage of their position. Tourists from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye take a short trip through the Old Northern River to the village of Bomba. There they hire vans to take them through Maskall to Altun Ha and then to Maruba Resort further up on the old northern road. Although tourists usually only see Maskall through tinted windows of the tour van, the industry has created employment for many of the villagers. And, according to Chairman of the village council, Selvin Graham, efforts are being made to encourage tourists to stop in the village.

Selvin Graham, Village Council Chairman

“We plan a craft center, a place where the people of Maskall can sell their carvings to the tourists.”

Carolyn Jones, Artist

“This is a picture of Jesus on a painting so I drew it out and this is my first try and so far so good for me.”

Despite all the optimism about what tourism may bring to the village, there are still many obstacles to overcome. Michael Jones, who owns a van and takes up to four tours a day from Bomba through Maskall during the tourist season, says one of the problems is tour guides who aren’t up to professional standards.

Michael Jones, Tour Guide

“There are ordinary white plates that go out without insurance. They should get special insurance just in case they get in an accident because they cannot cover the damage of the vehicle or nothing.”

Along with the monitoring of tour vans, Graham says they also need more policemen and better roads. But development is proceeding slowly but surely.

Selvin Graham

“Since we got 24 hours of electricity, more people want to come back to Maskall and there is a great demand for land. At the moment we have no vacant lots. They think that things are better and safer in Maskall.”

Safety, a beautiful location andfriendly people are just a few of the things that Maskall villagers are counting on to attract tourists. And those who live here have every intention of putting their village on the map. Arreini Palacio for News Five.

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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