Profit for the Mayans

As a follow-up to my post on the Mayans absence from Georgia, here is a piece about how the Mayans may profit from all their recent publicity.

According to Ian O’Neill at Discovery News, there will be an increased amount of tourism in the Mayan regions of Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize.

Mexican officials have announced they are expecting a surge of visitors in its southern five states and airlines flying into Belize — a country known as the “heartland of the Maya” — have committed tens of thousands of extra seats.

Guatemala is even predicting a 10 percent uptick in tourism numbers.

The extant Mayans live in the rural areas and maintain some of their traditional culture.

specialist travel agents are steering clients toward programs that are trying to ensure rural Mayan communities see some of this tourism trickle-down.

“We need to include these people in any benefits derived [from tourism],” said Katie Valk, founder and director of Belize-Trips.com, “and offer attractive employment opportunities working to protect, rather than destroy, the environment.”

Gaspar Pedro González, a Guatemalan novelist and professor at University Mariano Gálvez, urges tourists to venture away from the cities to experience real Mayan decedents in more rural areas.

“Most Maya are not in the capital,” said González, “they’re out in the villages and communities.” And most traditional tourism infrastructure “is not in Maya hands. It is in white people’s hands, the Ladinos, they benefit more from tourism economically. But if foreigners want to visit the more remote villages, to visit this essence of the culture, this essence of life, they should go to the smallest villages where they have conserved the Mayan languages and form of life. Surely the Maya will benefit from this tourism.”

While authors and film makers are raking in the big-bucks on the apocalyptic foolishness, it would be nice to see some of the money go to the local economy of those who supposedly began the movement.

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