Honduran Finance Minister Arturo Alvarado and World Bank General
Manager Shengman Zhang signed an agreement in Copan Ruinas this
month for a $12.3 million loan to fund the Copan Valley Regional
Development Project. President Ricardo Maduro was present at
the signing ceremony as well.
The project is aimed at increasing the economic and social
prosperity of the Copan region. It is based on a strategy
to implement and promote eco-friendly tourism throughout the
valley, taking advantage of its archeological potential. Its
key axes are gender equality and integration, and sustainability.
Both are aimed at guaranteeing an all-inclusive development
of the region.
The funds will be executed by the Tourism Ministry and the
Honduran Institute of Tourism over a period of four years.
Objectives include the implementation of management plans
for the archaeological parks in Copán, El Puente, Los
Naranjos and Cerro Palenque. Plans also include the opening
of a fifth park in the Plan Grande zone on the island of Guanaja
in the Bay Islands.
The project also includes a series of modules to cover a
variety of areas, such as the management of productive natural
resources in the five parks and surrounding areas, in order
to avert the negative environmental impact of factors like
deforestation, erosion and natural disasters. Training and
technical assistance will also be included to help local residents
create alternative tourist attractions that are of high quality
and low impact. Small businesses like restaurants and inns
are expected to help prolong the length of the average visitorâ€™s
stay, generating increased income for residents and creating
investment opportunities in the tourism sector.
In addition to reinforcing local abilities, the project also
seeks to create jobs in areas like park management and tour
guides. Meanwhile, local school children and their families
will be educated about the importance of the environment and
the Copan Valleyâ€™s rich biodiversity and cultural heritage.
Additional funding will go to financing direct and indirect
business activities among the regionâ€™s most underprivileged.
The Copan Valley Regional Development Project is the second
project financed by the World Bank through the Tourism Ministry
and the Honduran Institute of Tourism. The first was the Sustainable
Coastal Tourism Project.