Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tourism Up According to Inguat

Although several European countries and North America have alerted their citizens not to visit Guatemala, which they consider dangerous, last January, the records indicate a 4 percent increase in the number of tourists.

Guillermo Novielli, deputy director of the Guatemalan Institute of Tourism (Inguat) reported that last month that 177,196 foreigners entered the country, while in January of 2008 169,362 did so. These figures include visits in connection with tourism and business, among other activities.

According to Inguat, an aggressive marketing plan launched yesterday will allow Guatemala to attract 1.8 million tourists, 400,000 from the U.S., and $1 billion in foreign exchange during 2009. Sandra Monterroso, director of marketing at Inguat, said the advertising campaign includes promotion of seven areas focusing on the culture of the indigenous Mayan archeological ruins of the Peten, woodlands, and beaches of the Pacific and Caribbean.

"The world crisis can generate a great opportunity because many U.S. travelers that would go to Europe can no longer afford to do so. Then Guatemala can be your destination because it's less expensive.," said the director of Inguat, Roberto Robles.

The promotional plan will cost about $10 million and aims to attract tourists from Central America, North America, Europe.

Regarding visitor security, in the past year there were 40 incidents involving foreign visitors, which is considered a low rate.

A Different Way to Chew

Deep in the rainforests of northern Guatemala, nearly two decades ago, Deborah Schimberg '80 P'12 found something to chew on - chicle, the original ingredient for chewing gum. Today she is the president of Verve, Inc., a Providence-based business that manufactures Glee Gum, an all-natural chewing gum.

While researching sustainable development in Guatemala in 1992, Schimberg discovered that chicleros, the people who harvest chicle from Sapodilla trees in the rainforest, depend on it for their livelihoods. After her trip, which was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Schimberg used a few blocks of chicle from Guatemala to make experimental batches of gum in her kitchen. She and her three children loved the hands-on project so much that she decided to manufacture and sell a "Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit."

Eventually, Schimberg's company began to offer kits allowing people to make their own chocolate or gummies.

Read the rest of the story: The Brown Daily Herald

Potato Crop Destroyed by Cold Weather

Some 75 families in the community Los mecates, lost their potato crop as a result of the cold weather that has affected the region.

Roberto Hernandez, president of the Community Committee, reported that the frost wiped out the potato crop. "We are sad because that's our living. Now our future is uncertain." He added that what's most troubling is that most farmers work with micro credit for the purchase of fertilizers. Now that they've lost their crop, they do not know how to pay their debts.

According to the community, it lost 185 cuerdas, which produce 5,550 bushels of potatoes. At a price per quintal of Q200, that pencils out to Q1,110,000.

Francisco Aguilar told that preparing the ground for sowing the seed takes three to five days. After that, you must wait four to five months for the potato harvest, during which time organic fertilizer is applied twice.

The deputy mayor of Chiantla, Julián Andrés Lucas explained that the problem is that on some days during the cold wave, the ground was covered with sheets of ice. Lucas added that this situation is serious for the farmers living in extreme poverty, because the harvest pays debts and obtains funds to meet the basic needs of families.

A year ago, the same problem occurred and there are still consequences today from last year's crop damage.

Of the 900 people living in the community of Mecate, most have been engaged in agriculture for years.

Cisco Goes Where No WiMax Has Gone Before

You might think that the global market for high technology ends somewhere around Austria, New Zealand, and Singapore. Well, think again. What we may see as the developing world is hungry for high tech, too. There are tons of untapped markets to sink your teeth into.

Take Cisco Systems' (Nasdaq: CSCO) latest customer announcement, for example. A new mobile WiMax service, brand-named AERO, was built around Cisco hardware from the ground up. A million residents and plenty of local businesses can now connect to the Internet anywhere within a vast, sparsely populated area. This wide-reach, high-speed technology is still unavailable across most of the United States, despite the best efforts of Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), and a gaggle of cable service providers to push their Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR) access.

Those Cisco servers and base stations are not going to Kentucky. They sit in Karaganda, in central Kazakhstan. Go ahead and look that up on a map. I'll wait right here. Yeah, that's the far reaches of Borat's supposed motherland. You got it.

Karaganda is so remote that the Russians use the name as a punch line in jokes. Yet this isolated city and the steppes around it probably got WiMax goodness before your cozy hometown. "In 2009, we plan to expand AERO further across several regions of Kazakhstan and add video to our offering," says Stepan Vadyunin, service provider AsiaBell's CEO.

Read the rest of the story: Motley Fool