Based in Belize, Janice Staines Aguilar took over as executive
secretary of Mundo Maya in June. She also owns a retail travel
agency in Belize City and a wholesale travel firm in Miami. Here,
she discusses the Mundo Maya project with contributing editor
TW: Can you explain what Mundo Maya is?
Aguilar: Our first objective is to promote among the private and
public sector of our countries [Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala,
Honduras and five states in southeastern Mexico] the cultural,
environmental and touristic development of Mundo Maya.
It's promoting internally and marketing externally -- with the
stress that we need to develop a tourism product that will bring
economic benefits to the region and at the same time protect the
social, cultural and psychological characteristics of the local
communities. [It's] the integration of sustainable tourism and
training the technical and professional personnel for the tourism
sector. So you see we have quite a big job.
TW: What defines Mundo Maya as a destination?
Aguilar: Each country has different attributes, different
attractions. We all still have Maya ruins and Maya communities.
TW: What have been the key accomplishments of the Mundo Maya
project so far?
Aguilar: One is that we have brought the five countries of the
region together. It has brought an awareness among the five that we
do have the product, that we can sell the product and that we have
all the necessary attributes to make it happen. We have done a lot
of marketing over the years. We have done a lot of institutional
development. We have developed brochures and other promotional
materials and we have visited trade shows and had other
TW: Has the Mundo Maya project increased tourism to the
Aguilar: I would think so. I know that the word is out there,
[though] it still needs a lot more distribution. And I know that
people have been asking for circuits, for tours which include the
[five] countries. Through Mundo Maya, tour operators have met and
have learned to work with one another.
TW: What are your goals during your term?
Aguilar: More institutional development is one. Secondly,
marketing. Also we need to see integration of the private sector.
Those are our goals.
There's also a lot of sales facilitation we need to do -- things
like borders and inter-country transportation are still being
One thing we feel is of importance is training and product
development. We need to train our people so we give quality
service. Also, we need to identify the priority areas where we can
promote all this, because we do have a limited budget. We also need
to incorporate local communities, because the culture plays a very
TW: Why should agents sell Mundo Maya?
Aguilar: The world in general is looking at a different aspect
of tourism, a new tourism, and more and more you're finding that
people are [pursuing] special interests. People want to go back to
nature, and we are nature at its best.
We are community, authentic Indian villages. We give you
everything as God intended it to be -- natural, healthy, away from
the stress and the lights and glamour, an area where you can relax,
be yourself and see the wonders we have. Our biggest attributes are
our communities, our people and our natural resources.
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Agents can receive information, including brochures, videos and
maps on Mundo Maya by contacting its office in Belize. Mundo Maya,
Executive Secretariat, Plaza Theatre Building, Bliss Parade,
Belmopan, Belize; (011) 501-8-23783, fax (011) 501-8-22976.