By Melanie Lieberman
February 10, 2016

In the 1980s, a beautiful stretch of land on the Eastern coast of the Yucatan known as the Sian Ka’an, or Origin of the Sky, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It sits two hours south of Cancun, and boasts a blend of mangroves, wetlands, sand dunes, reefs, and savannah—all dotted with ancient ruins.

Here, Community Tours and GLP Films explain how job opportunities are being developed for the local Mayans. The organization Amigos de Sian Ka’an, for example, supports women by promoting the sales of artisanal handicrafts, including mermelada de pitahaya, or dragon fruit jam.

Related: 5 Things to Do in Downtown Cancun

In this ecologically rich region, promoting sustainable tourism is of the utmost importance to locals. Travelers here can swim or kayak through the tortoise-filled lagoons, boat down the natural canals, hike through the gum tree-filled jungles, and to partake in traditional Mayan ceremonies and rituals.