The recent release of Belize’s 2012 Maya Calendar of Events is good news for both visitors and the local tourism industry, Lucy Fleming, owner and GM of The Lodge at Chaa Creek said.
“Many people will be travelling from all over the world to take part in Maya cultural events and activities in Belize during 2012, and this calendar will help visitors plan more effectively and make the best use of their time. It’s also a great example of cooperation in Belize’s tourism industry,” she said.
The Calendar was launched January 11, 2012 by Diane Haylock, President of Belize’s National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) during a ceremony at the Bliss Centre of Performing Arts in Belize City.
“While the presentation of the calendar is a culmination, it also marks the beginning of a period of reflection, celebration, discussion and research of Maya contribution to Belize, Mesoamerica and the world,” Ms Haylock told the audience.
Modern day Belize, known as the Heartland of the Maya, was once a vibrant hub of Maya civilisation boasting the huge metropolis of Caracol and many other city states, temples and ceremonial centres. The country’s network of navigable rivers linked the highlands of present day Guatemala and Mexico to the Caribbean coastline, where Maya coastal trade routes ran from Mexico to as far south as Panama.
The small country contains numerous Maya temples, archaeological sites and a vast underground network of sacred caves. Today, the two tallest buildings in Belize are both Maya pyramids. Over 10% of Belize’s current population are Maya with strong ties to their culture and language.
Ms Haylock explained that the Maya 2012 calendar currently highlights 20 events, such as the recent lecture by author and Mayanist Dr Mark Van Stone, and she said that the list is expected to grow. The calendar combines traditional events, such as the annual La Ruta Maya River Challenge (a three day international canoes race tracing Maya trade routes), The Maya Traditional healers Workshop, and the Toledo Cacao Festival along with new, Maya-specific initiatives.
Ms Haylock pointed out that the 2012 initiatives were developed by NICH, the Belize Tourism Board, the Ministry of Tourism Civil Aviation and Culture, the Belize Hotels Association, the Belize Tourism Industry Association, NGOs, specific resorts and several other partners.
Ms Fleming, a founding member of the national 2012 planning committee and the coordinator of Chaa Creek’s 2012 Maya events, said it was gratifying to see the public and private sectors work with groups, individuals and the Maya community to ensure that visitors to Belize enjoy an authentic Maya experience.
“Belize’s rich Maya heritage is something that all Belizeans share and take pride in, and it’s been wonderful to see representatives from so many different sectors – government, private industry, art and cultural groups along with a range of individuals, work together to present and promote our real Maya heritage as world attention focuses on Belize. With the approach of the 2012 Winter Solstice, we want to celebrate in a respectful, but very enthusiastic manner,” she said, and added that the Belize 2012 Calendar of Events can be found on the Belize Tourism Board and Chaa Creek websites.