The archaeological site of Ichkabal is getting ready to open its doors and bring a greater number of tourists to the southern region of Quintana Roo.
Dating back to 300 BC and containing structures higher than 40 meters, the site is older than Calakmul in Campeche and taller than Chichén Itzá in Yucatán.
Ichkabal was first reached by archaeologists in 1995. Spread over more than 30 square kilometers, the relatively recent discovery is believed to have been one of the most important political centers in the region during the Preclassic Mayan era.
“Everything is yet to be discovered in Ichkabal,” said INAH, the National Institute of Anthropology and History, in a prepared statement, adding that the first archaeological explorations of the site started in 2009.
Ichkabal is located 82 kilometers from Chetumal, the state capital, in the municipality of Bacalar. Set in a region of natural wealth and a forest reserve, Ichkabal has the potential to be a great environmental conservation project.
The grounds around the site can also offer ecotourism opportunities such as hiking and birdwatching.
The region currently receives an average of 100,000 visitors per year, a figure expected to increase by 20% every year once the new site opens its doors in 2017 or 2018.
The federal government has allocated 11 million pesos for tourism-related infrastructure.
The investment will include upgrading the road to the site, ecotourism promotion, training of tourism services staff, the creation of cultural products and the integration of archaeological corridors.
The state Secretary of Tourism believes that the opening of Ichkabal will be a major economic, social and tourism boost for the entire southern region of Quintana Roo.
Source: El Universal (sp)