La Antigua: A World Class Destination

“For a great future, you must have a vision, solid goals, and a good plan. And, then, you must take the first step.”

History, tradition, tranquility, culture, and community are a few of the words one can use to describe this beautiful and authentic colonial masterpiece called La Antigua Guatemala. And today, for all those reasons and more, La Antigua is a popular tourist destination for national Guatemalan tourists and foreign tourists alike. Because of this, the people behind the program to promote the city and its identity as a cultural destination (Marca Ciudad) are working hard alongside the municipal and regional governments, INGUAT, and the National Council for the Protection of La Antigua Guatemala (Consejo Nacional para la Protección de La Antigua Guatemala or CNPAG) not only to maintain La Antigua as a unique World Heritage Site, but also to make the city and surrounding towns into a world-class destination, where tourists and citizens can enjoy a place that is secure, accessible, authentic, and tranquil. A place where one can be at peace while sitting under the shade of a tree in the park, walking down a cobblestoned street, or sipping coffee in a café.  A place to enjoy perfect weather and to breathe clean air, whether in the center of town, on a trail in the woods, climbing a volcano or walking along a river, without a worry.

This vision for a bright, successful and sustainable future first began in 2009 when over 200 Antigüeños (businesspeople, citizens, and visionaries) came together to form the organization Panchoy 50 and created a long-term vision where tourism is the economic mainstay of the area, and where thoughtful and well-planned development can benefit all the surrounding communities and improve the quality of life of all those involved in the great chain of services needed to support a tourist destination. Through this vision of sustainable development, and with the rediscovery, protection and promotion of local culture, the Panchoy Valley can be a place where artisans, musicians, writers, weavers, and traditional cuisine flourish.

But, every long-term goal needs a plan, the support of the community and of course, a first step. For many, the old town of La Antigua is the ideal place to begin, and a plan to transform this area (a radius of 800 meter extending from Central Park) into a pedestrian zone is underway. The zone would include the main city blocks, where most shops and restaurants reside and where most events take place, and, similar to weekends now on 5a. Avenida Norte (the Calle del Arco), vehicles would be barred and those on foot would have free range. Just imagine La Antigua’s city center free of the noise, fumes and hustle of cars and trucks! All that is needed now is action.

A steering committee is in place as a product of the successful Congress for the Protection and Development for La Antigua held late last year. The Mayor of La Antigua works with central government planning officials, INGUAT consultants and local businesspeople to review specific proposals. The projects now on the agenda include the large central wastewater system under construction, the conversion of the Hotel Nimajay site into a large visitor center with parking, a permanent pedestrian traffic program for 5a. Avenida Norte, and a plan to direct vehicles in a loop outside the perimeter of the old-city grid.

As with all good city plans, the support of local businesses and citizens – your support – is essential. If you would like to get involved, contact the private sector representative on the committee, Gerald Leech, at Casa del Jade. Jerry is not only well informed, but is also active in supporting what will ultimately be a Private/Public Corporation for the development of La Antigua.  Or, stop by the Mayor’s office and voice your opinion.

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2 Comments on “La Antigua: A World Class Destination”

  • Gabriel wrote on 7 November, 2011, 0:49

    All this is fantastic! Really is! But how on earth can I contact Gerald Leech – can’t seem to find his e-mail address anywhere. . .

  • Keri Peyton wrote on 7 November, 2011, 10:41

    The initiative has office space located at the Antigua Casa de la Moneda (5a Avenida Sur and 6a Calle Poniente, next door to SAT), where the steering committee meets and which also houses the technical support the projects require.