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Southern Belize

Seine Bight is a small Garifuna fishing village in southern Belize. It is located in the Stann Creek District, on the Placencia peninsula and it is radiant in culture. From a distance, the residents seem to be poor and unhappy but the humble lives they have and the old shacks they live in don’t represent how fortunate they consider themselves to be.

Seine Bight got its name from early fishermen who named it Seine for their favorite long fishing nets and Bight for the word used which means the depression in the coastline. The Garifuna culture in Seine Bight is intact and the people there stay very close to their traditions. This Garifuna village is one of the few extraordinary villages that exist in the Caribbean and even Belize.

What can this small, once fisherman village do to survive? 
Seine Bight is a perfect location to be used as a tourism asset for Belize because the Garifuna culture and the uniqueness of the village would marvel tourists from everywhere.  (1.) Tourists could partake in traditional dances and ceremonies that take place, especially on the 19th of November which is a National holiday known as the Garifuna Settlement Day. (2.) Since the village is inland, many archaeological sites and jungle adventures are accessible; it would be easy for travelers to pick a island and inland vacation package and thus be able to experience the beach and the sea, and the jungle. (3.) The food at Seine Bight is wonderful and extraordinary. There is a wide variety of seafood main dishes and other types which use plantain or cassava as the Entre. (4.) Unqiue experience. Children and adults walk around bare feet and with huge smiles on their faces, this essence of peace and gentleness welcomes strangers and lets them explore the true feeling of content. Visitors can compare what their society defines as a need to live happy and see how different it is for humble Garifunas in Seine Bight. The villagers fish during the day and gather together to dance at night; they live joyful stress free lives. 

What are the negative effects that would affect the village from the influx of tourists and people
(1.) The people could lose their culture and heritage because of the presence of other cultures. (2.) The value of the villagers’ beliefs and culture could diminish since they would perform dances and ceremonies just to get paid instead of because it made them happy. (3.) Inflation would occur; the cost of living would hugely affect the lower income families and property value would soar to the point that locals wouldn't be able to own property. Foreigners would come in and buy all the land since they could afford it, and the village would not have as much of a strong presence of the Garifuna culture anymore. (4.) Crime would rise because of the influx of tourist visiting and because of the people who came searching for jobs. (5.) Stress on the natural environment could be devastating because of overuse and people could even probably deplete the fish for touristic purposes.

What can be done to counteract the negative effects? 
It is hard to maintain an incredible place like Sainte Bight the same after it is would be deemed a main tourist destination in Belize. There would have to put rules and regulations to protect the culture and its people. Certain ways in which the government and other organizations have made cultures such as the Garifuna maintain their traditions is by placing value to it and allowing them to see its importance. For example, by recognizing and meriting the Garifuna for their resilience in maintaining their heritage, their is getting stronger. In 2001, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed the Garifuna language, dance and music as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity(Foster, 2009). Thanks to official recognitions like these, we can hope that villages like Seine Bight will maintain its splendid culture forever.

Overall, promoting Seine Bight as a major tourist attraction would benefit Belize and especially the village because they could plan their own development. Basic services would improve for both locals and foreigners. Foreign investment would occur, businesses would emerge and many locals would have jobs. Local farmers from that area would be able to sell their produce and the local manufactures could work for hotels, restaurants and resorts. An important issue like infrastructure would be upgraded resulting in better roads and buildings. Of course there are negatives that come with tourism but no matter what, development will occur and it is best if sustainable tourism is sought before the giants decide what they will do with that little gem. 

Foster, N. (2009). Seine Bight: a village of richness.
Retrieved December 10, 2009, from Belizean Journeys Website:

Patrick Labesse, Le Monde (top right) (bottom right)


Anonymous said...

Hi Larry - nice article, but a couple of corrections - Seine Bight isn't inland - it's on the coast - the coast of the Peninsula Peninsula in southern Belize. Also, not sure Seine Bight needs foreign tourism investment (which would displace residents due to the scarcity of land on the Peninsula). Education, training and helping residents create their own businesses might be more productive.

Lorenzo said...

Thanks for your comment Mary. The entire purpose of writing is to get feedback.
By inland I meant its not off the coast and archaeological sites can be easily accessed via roads.
And yes, foreign investment would create havoc in Seine bight - I saw how the village looks now that a highways runs through it.
But I still stand on my point that in order for this village to survive, sustainable tourism is needed. You see, responsible tourism will add value to the simple aspects of life that would otherwise be destroyed - by value, i mean money. And yes, education and training is necessary so that this occurs.

Anonymous said...

Oh, very much agreed on sustainable tourism, but not necessarily foreign owned sustainable tourism.

Lorenzo said...

I agree with you. I prefer local also.

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