"We need to include these people in any benefits derived [from tourism]," said Katie Valk, founder and director of Belize-Trips.com, "and offer attractive employment opportunities working to protect, rather than destroy, the environment."
Gaspar Pedro González, a Guatemalan novelist and professor at University Mariano Gálvez, urges tourists to venture away from the cities to experience real Mayan decedents in more rural areas.
"Most Maya are not in the capital," said González, "they're out in the villages and communities." And most traditional tourism infrastructure "is not in Maya hands. It is in white people's hands, the Ladinos, they benefit more from tourism economically. But if foreigners want to visit the more remote villages, to visit this essence of the culture, this essence of life, they should go to the smallest villages where they have conserved the Mayan languages and form of life. Surely the Maya will benefit from this tourism."
In the doomsayers' warped mindset, money should be useless soon after Dec. 21 - should any make the Mayan trip, I hope they invest heavily in the local economy so the Mayan descendants can profit from their irrational thinking.