Guatemala Wants 'Survivor' Boost

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Guatemalan officials are hoping that the new edition of the CBS reality show "Survivor" will draw more tourists to the spectacular Mayan ruins of the Peten jungle.

"It is a program seen by 200 million people and we have the opportunity to show our archaeological riches," presidential tourism commissioner Willy Kaltschmitt said on Friday.

The American television network announced last week that the next edition of Survivor would be called "Guatemala — The Maya Empire." Earlier versions were shot in places such as Australia's Outback, Palau, Thailand and the Amazon region.

The CBS program not only presents the contestants' antics, survival challenges and personalities, but also showcases the wonders of nature surrounding the drama. For example, on "Survivor: Palau," winners of a challenge swam with rare non-poisonous jellyfish. Others were greeted by friendly dolphins.

Kaltschmitt said he hopes the program, set at the Yaxha archaeological park, will fit into government efforts to promote the heritage of the Maya cultures that flourished across the region about 2,000 years ago.

"If we wanted to pay a minute of television around the world to promote Yaxha, it would take the annual budget" of the government tourism institute, he said, noting that Palau saw increased tourism attention from the just-finished series.

Kaltschmitt said a camp for the series' staff and competitors would be established next week and filming would start in June.

Yaxha is a few miles northeast of the famed Maya city of Tikal. The region is noted for mosquitoes as well as ancient architecture and the competition will take place during the rainy season in an area that sees rain, on average, 185 days a year.

CBS accepted restrictions required for activity in a national park, Kaltschmitt said, and Guatemala promised to facilitate the program.

  • Christine Lagorio

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