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Belize: Xunantunich, NICH and San Jose Succotz

Posted: Monday, May 30, 2016. 7:09 am CST.


By Richard Harrison: The village of San Jose Succotz is one of the biggest villages in Belize, with a population of around 2,000.

This beautiful village is blessed with the clear waters of the Mopan River and the majestic Xunantunich Mayan temples.

The National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) administers the Xunantunich site….and is responsible for collecting the park entrance fees. With around 57,000 paid visitors in 2014, it can be estimated that revenues exceed $400,000 per year.

There is a manually operated ferry that takes vehicles across the river at no charge, so that visitors can drive up to Xunantunich.

The San Jose Succotz river front is one of the few places left that Belizeans and tourist can swim in clear and clean waters. Many thousands of Belizeans and tourists use this river front each year, especially during the very hot months of March – May.

Yet, the river front is not managed….it is littered with plastic, paper, bottles and cans.

Surely NICH can take a small amount of its Xunantunich revenue to hire a full time park maintenance person to keep the San Jose Succotz river front clean at all times. After all, should not the village benefit from having this substantial national asset in its vicinity?


Perhaps this can eventually be financed by allowing the village council to charge a small fee to non-villagers who use the river front?….and perhaps charging a small fee at the ferry to take the vehicles across the river? However, the river front must first be developed with appropriate landscaping….in as natural a way as possible…preserving the many age old trees that line the banks of the Mopan River….complete with signs that encourage responsible use of the asset.

The Mopan River watershed needs to be managed so that these waters remain clear and clean into perpetuity….unlike the Macal River, which has been destroyed by mining, hydro-electric dams and pollution run-off from San Ignacio Town. The San Jose Succotz community needs to take greater ownership of this resource….and they should be given incentives to develop this sense of ownership. There needs to be cooperation with Guatemalan nature-keepers, since this river also runs through a part of Guatemala upstream.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of  Breaking Belize News.

This article was written by Richard Harrison, Belizean investor in production and services businesses in Belize. He holds a Masters in Business Administration degree from Lancaster University.


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