Uaxactun has long been
considered a village with high ecotourism potential. Prior efforts to develop tourism in
Uaxactun had failed to consider the need for advertizing, and most remarkably, failed to
tap into the 150,000 visitors the Tikal National Park receives each year.
Uaxactun is located only 23 kilometers from
Tikal and is easily accessed by an all-weather road. Uaxactun also contains one of only
three excavated and restored Maya ruin complexes in the entire Maya Bisophere Reserve.
This complex is unique for its astronomical observatory (Structure E-VII sub) and for its
proximity to the forest and the village.
The Guatemalan Tourism Board
(INGUAT) is currently developing facilities for tourists in Uaxactun in the form of
restrooms. New interpretive signs are being added in the ruin complexes. As of now, some
1,000 tourists reach Uaxactun every year, but until recently most had not left any
monetary benefits within the community. Traditional tourism operators bring in their own
food and beverages, dash through the ruins and see Uaxactun only through their buses'
windows... attempting to capture all the benefits for themselves. Nevertheless,
ecotourism was recently reported to have grown by 10% in the PetÚn this past year, in
part due to the recent Peace Accords that ended 36 years of civil war.
Ecotourism is one of the
worlds fastest growing industries, rising at a rate of 30% a year. Uaxactun is
positioned between Tikal and the great northern Maya Biosphere Reserve Maya ruins of El
Mirador, Nakbe, Naachtun and Rio Azul, making it the best point of departure for
ecoadventures into those areas. This project will help bring Uaxactun villagers more
direct benefits from this potentially huge industry.