Tropical Fieldwork Team (Geog 654): Belize 2014

A Tropical Fieldwork team (Geog 654) was in Belize from February 15 through March 4, studying (eco)tourism in the karst of the western Cayo District. Based again at the Lower Dover Research Station in Unitedville, the team (Jake Bachman, Ellen Blaser, Mick Day, Courtney Gauert, Ed Glavin, Ashley Hoerz, Kate Sorensen and Tyler Willey) built on prior research by Liana Escott (MA, 2002) and the 2012 team in the former Cayo West Special Development Area, the establishment of which was prompted by the growth of the tourism business.

The research also built on the karst tourism work of Joe Rath (MA, 2000) and particularly on the dissertation of Jeff Allender (PhD, 1992), who provided important benchmark data during the early establishment of the local tourism sector.

The team documented the current state of the local ecotourism industry, based on San Ignacio/Santa Elena, visited principal tourist locations and surveyed numerous operators and participants. The information is currently being analyzed with a report due by the end of the spring semester. As always, Belize’s landscape and people provided a wonderful venue for the field research, and the Lower Dover Research Station facilitated the logistics.