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Mar 29, 2022

Belize Introduces the Garifuna Trail, A Complete Cultural Experience

Members of the Belize Tourism Board, in partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization, traveled south to Dangriga this morning where they formally launched the Garifuna Trail, a community-based tourism initiative to promote economic growth. The project will focus on bringing together all the elements of the Garifuna culture to be marketed as one, unique Belizean experience. The official ceremony was held at the Pen Cayetano Art Gallery and Studio. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Garifuna music, dance, language, and food are among Belize’s most important cultural exports.  Collectively, these elements help to define who we are as an ethnically diverse people. Even with a shared existence, there has been no effort to market these features as a single tourism product. Not until now, with the introduction of the Garifuna Trail.


Uwahnie Mel Martinez

Uwahnie Mel Martinez, Garifuna Cultural Tourism Entrepreneur

“As you may know, many instances you will just see dancers going to resorts instead of guests coming to us. So we want to change that dynamic whereby we can leverage much of the marketing tools in order to be able to leverage the economic power that comes with tourism for our people.”


As a community based tourism project, Garifuna Trail aims to provide a unique and genuine cultural experience for visitors across various Garifuna communities.


Nicole Solano

Nicole Solano, C.E.O., Ministry of Tourism

“People are traveling today to try and gain that experience, to connect, to make connections, human connections, that’s what people are looking for today. So it’s more than just come and observe and look at entertainment, that’s not what they are looking for. People want authentic connection and we are trying to develop and promote [it] into a tourism product. Belize is all about authenticity and our cultures, when people come here they feel a sense of connection that they feel nowhere else in the world, so that is really what this is all about.”


Much like Dangriga, the culture capital, Hopkins Village is prominently featured along the Garifuna Trail. Over the years, this southern community has blossomed into a major tourist destination where Garifunaduou often takes center stage.


Uwahnie Mel Martinez

“For those in Hopkins, all the locally owned businesses, I must say thank you. But in the same light, I encourage others, the ones in Dangriga are also prominently featured.  Remember, these are all unsung heroes, people who have been taking on cultural preservation in their own light, in their own efforts, with their own money.”


This initiative, nonetheless, is part of a regional effort to highlight authentic experiences across the Caribbean. For the Garifuna Trail to materialize, Belize had to submit a winning proposal to Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility, a private sector development program delivering innovative and practical solutions to stimulate economic growth.


Brian Frontin

Brian Frontin, Caribbean Tourism Organization

“Compete Caribbean chose a very unique opportunity this time to have C.T.O. execute the project on its behalf by implementing in three countries, one of which is Belize, but also in Bahamas, as well as Dominica, three pilot C.B.T. projects, community based tourism projects, with the thinking that the learning from these experiences could be shared to really expand the model within the Caribbean and it’s really gratifying that the project is focusing on indigenous persons in the first instance. Often times, that is neglected or maybe even an ignored community in many of the ways that tourism has evolved. It becomes very mainstream.”


Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Tourism, Nicole Solano, says that the project is being funded to the tune of three hundred and seventy-five thousand U.S. dollars.


Nicole Solano

“The project won among several other projects that were proposed within the region.  So it is being funded by Compete Caribbean, a project that was done through the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Belize Tourism Board, as well, is putting some funding towards it and in-kind contributions from the cluster businesses themselves.”


Uwahnie Mel Martinez

“We’re looking at training in entrepreneurial endeavors, we’re looking at tour guide training, we’re looking at holistic training where self-empowerment is concerned. So it’s a holistic approach to cultural tourism where we first develop self.”


Isani Cayetano reporting 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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