Žiga Kokalj1 / Krištof Oštir1 / Peter Pehani1 / Tomaž Podobnikar1 / Vince Gaffney2 / Helen Goodchild2

(1 Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia / 2 University of Birmingham, United Kingdom)

The Maya World covers approximately 500.000 km2 in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. The region is extremely beautiful and vital to the Earth’s environment. A number of protected areas have been established, which together with unique cultural and archaeological legacy represent a magnet for tourists. With the number of visitors growing at nearly 9% per year, the risks of unsustainable use of resources and exploitation of the culture are significant. The sustainable use of the land requires optimization and rationalization of forestry and land use as well as the appropriate management of archaeological and other resources.
The paper describes a geographic information system (GIS) mapping framework, guidelines and implementation of the internet mapping site, containing an interactive map with the appropriate visual and contextual tools that allow dedicated management of the region’s cultural sites and routes. A large set of data from different sources, different quality and completeness has been obtained, modified and prepared for internet use. The processed data layers provide general information on the Mundo Maya project, areas of interest, human activity and organization as well as basic landscape features.
While designing the functional and structural framework of the GIS mapping site, the following basic concepts were considered: it has to serve various potential users, including environmental managers, ministries of tourism, academic institutes, private sector and the general public; it has to be simple, easily understandable and manageable; at the same time it has to allow basic analysis. The strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities that may occur with the establishment of an ArcIMS web site have also been taken into account. The Mundo Maya Sustainable Tourism Program mapping site has successfully demonstrated the potential of internet GIS technology. Nevertheless the initial investment will be justified only if the site is used and fully exploited.