On Thursday, June 21, 2012, after the ground breaking ceremony for the San Pedro Sunset Boardwalk and Water Taxi Terminal, Minister of Tourism & Culture Hon. Manuel Heredia, Mayor Daniel Guerrero, along with members of the Belize Tourism Board and national media, took a familiarization trip to the Bacalar Chico National Park & Marine Reserve. The group was given a tour of the area and an in depth talk about the area including the rich history of Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve.
The Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve, located at the northernmost tip of Ambergris Caye, will be undergoing a capacity building project under the Belize Fisheries Department in auspices with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Belize Tourism Board with financing from the Inter American Development Bank (IDB).
The main purpose of the project is the imperativeness to build organizational capacity though the acquisition of equipment and infrastructure. Management will have the resources for better public relations, information provision and enforcement capacity which should translate into less reserve violations.
The Sustainable Tourism Project Investments coordinated with the Fisheries Department and Forestry Department will finance:
*Hiring of two Reserve Rangers for One Year
*Human Resource capacity building and training
*Tourism Assessment and Business Plan
*Quality Tourism Infrastructural Investment as recommended by the tourism assessment including architectural designs and construction
Investment in tourism infrastructure within the National Park and Marine Reserve is planned for Bacalar Chico as a tool towards income generation for day-to-day park management activities and to diversify the tourism attractions product for visitors to Ambergris Caye, increasing visitor length of stay and reducing the pressures on existing attractions such as Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
Low impact infrastructural investments for consideration include overnight accommodations targeting short stay eco-adventure and eco-educational market, infrastructural improvements of the pier and landing site and marine routes, a ranger station south of Rocky Point, base camp at Laguna de Cantena, trail development, signage and interpretation.
All recommendations for trails, signage and appropriate visitor amenity and service areas will be made within the context of a UNESCO heritage site. The approach to construction of visitor amenities is to build and remodel the existing structures currently present on the site at San Juan, utilizing the same footprint and incorporating “green” building design.