Long term impacts of ecotourism on a Mayan rural community in Belize

No Thumbnail Available
Miller, Deborah A.
Eflin, Deborah A.
Issue Date
Thesis (M.S.)
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management
Other Identifiers

Before 1968, Blue Creek Village was comprised of Mayan Indians living their traditional way of life, growing corn, beans, and rice, caring for their homes and family. The years following 1968, Blue Creek Village began to see development and change. Between the years of 1968-1971, a road, Catholic Church and an ecotourism site were built, the International Zoological Expedition (IZE). Three years later a primary school was built (1974-75) and finally in 1978 an agriculture building was built. Only 9% of the people living in Blue Creek Village had no formal schooling. Two generations of the Blue Creek Village people experienced and were affected by developmental changes occurring in their community.During the summer of 1999 (May 13 - August 8), I studied the Mayan Indians to determine how ecotourism, education, and gender influence the cash income earned by the Mayan people and how education is influenced by ecotourism, gender, age, individual, family/generational or community decisions. Blue Creek Village, Belize, was chosen as the site of study because Mayan Indians lived a traditional lifestyle and it was adjacent to an ecotourism location, the IZE Blue Creek Rainforest Preserve in the Maya Mountains. Ethnographic interviews and participant observations were used to obtain responses and demographic data of the local Mayan people. From these responses the statistical analysis revealed that education does influence the cash income of the local Mayan people in Blue Creek Village. Prior to the IZE Rainforest Preserve, the Mayan men's only source of cash income was through rice production, and women were unable to earn cash. The cash earned from the visiting tourists assisted families by providing cash income to pay for an education for their children.