Spreading The Benefits Of Sustainable Tourism (And A Lot Of Smiles) In Belize
Once again, Chaa Creek shows how sustainable tourism benefits local communities
Not very long ago we posted an example of management and staff taking Chaa Creek’s brand of sustainable tourism to heart, by contributing their own ideas, energy, time and money towards projects that benefit the land and people of Belize.
It was good to see that Chaa Creek’s Macal River Cleanup Day 2019 received so much media attention and resonated with readers around the world.
Well, today we have the pleasure of highlighting another initiative –one that strengthens support for neighbours and local communities.
Corozalito Back To School Fun Day, step into the light and take a bow.
Held this year on 14 August 2019, this is another one of those projects that strengthens the bonds between Chaa Creek and neighbouring communities. It also helps bring the benefits of sustainable tourism to the warm and friendly local people who make visiting Belize such a joy
First, a bit of background...
About four years ago, Chaa Creek’s tour guides had an interesting idea.
Each day, any number of Chaa Creek’s comfy, air conditioned vans and other vehicles transport visitors - new arrivals from Belize’s International Airport, guests returning from canoe paddles down the Macal River, cultural tours, village visits, expeditions to ancient Maya temples, archaeological sites, and any of the Belize’s many stunning natural attractions - back to Chaa Creek along Chial Road.
On the way in they pass by the friendly little village of Corozalito, where the children often come out to wave.
And this got the guides and drivers thinking.
“Wonder what those kids think of all these people coming and going? It must be like another world to them.”
“Maybe we should reach out, introduce ourselves, and just do something nice for them...”
And thus began the concept of the Corozalito Back To School Fun Day.
The guides got together and came up with a simple idea that became a wonderful tradition.
And Chaa Creek’s owners and management jumped right on board.
Now in its fourth year, the Corozalito Back To School Fun Day has become an annual event that sees village kids and their parents mixing with Chaa Creek’s owners and staff to get to know each other better, have fun and frolic with lime and spoon races, musical chairs, tug of war, sack races and other games.
The guides and Chaa Creek provide snacks and beverages and – of particular interest to the kids, treats and gifts that include some very welcome back-to-school supplies.
In these rural farming communities, many villagers still grow their own food, raise chickens and pigs, hunt, fish and make beans and tortillas just as their ancestors did thousands of years ago. Life is good, but there’s not a lot of cash on hand – so in addition to all the fun and snacking, things like shiny new school backpacks are welcome indeed.
For us, seeing the villagers and Chaa Creekers having such a great time together was what it was really all about. It was hard to tell who was having the most fun –with the smiles on Chaa Creek founding co-owner Lucy Fleming and the ever-enthusiastic Denise Duran easily matching those of the kids and parents of Corozalito.
With the tour guides donating 30%, and Chaa Creek Cares matching with 70%, 37 happy schools kids, their parents and the Chaa Creekers had a great time together. And we learned, once again, that true sustainable tourism and community engagement are more than just buzzwords. Much more.
Just ask the children of Corozalito.
While you’ll find examples of good works throughout Chaa Creek, in this case, certain guides and staff members deserve particular mention.
Owner Lucy Fleming for her enthusiastic support and help. Denise Duran, once again, for organising and throwing herself into making events like this a success, and Chaa Creek Belize Expedition Guides who donated their own time and money:
- Daren Lamb
- Miguel Choco
- Mike Aguilar
- Alexie Trujillo
- Edward Requena
- Ricky Manzanero