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Nov 10, 2014

FECTAB Walks Out of Meeting with NICH and B.T.B.

Executives of the National Institute of Culture and History, the Belize Tourism Board and the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize met well into this evening at the offices of the Belize Tourism Board. The meeting was called after FECTAB told the media on Friday that NICH had instituted a forty-eight inch regulation which essentially prohibits persons four feet and under from enjoying cave tubing activities. FECTAB also accused NICH of entering into a seventy-five year agreement with Dark Night Cave Tubing Adventures Limited for the management of some caves. But when this issue was raised by tour operators at today’s meeting, NICH and B.T.B. refused to discuss it. That prompted a walkout by the tour operators. When the meeting broke up just before seven, the disgruntled tour operators made a statement.

 

David Almendarez, Executive Member, FECTAB

“Well as you may know, we’ve been having a lot of issues with the unfair conditions we local operators have been subjected to. Abruptly, two weeks ago, on the seventeenth of October, they implemented a forty-eight inches rule which basically says that any kids that we take under forty-eight inches, we can no longer take. We’ve been dialoguing with the B.T.B. and NICH since then. Today, we were supposed to have a meeting where we can address these issues and they can formally here our concerns. We believe that they have heard our concerns for the past three weeks already. So therefore we gathered here again to reiterate our concerns and they are going to sit down, digest it and get back to us before the end of the week; that’s what we’ve been told noh.”

 

Isani Cayetano

Yhony Rosado

“I understand that you guys walked out of the meeting. Give us an update as to what transpired.”

 

Yhony Rosado, Proprietor, Cavetubing.com

“David and Mister Tom have been contacted by B.T.B. for almost a month now and they have been tricked. I told them, they have been tricked. Every week we lose money; this is all about finance. We have to pay bills. This is not about us anymore. If you go to the caves tomorrow like how you guys waited for us this evening, it is an embarrassment for the government; politically stupid. The government is losing votes. I don’t know how the government, before they enter power, they say they are for the people and when they are in power, they are not for the people. One of the reasons why we walked out is because they don’t want to talk about Dark Night, the dirty business. They don’t want to talk about Dark Night; they want to talk about this book that was properly gazette that was properly done. Dean Barrow know the law; they know that they’ll never do nothing against the law. But bread from our table, they can take away anytime. Last year about around this time, we went to war with them and it almost cost me my tour operator license. This year again…this government just don’t care mi brother. And it is so stupid—politically, tourism wise, nation-wise—for people to come from outside, book with us because the ship does not want to hold liable for kids. The kids we ker are under forty-eight inches because the cruise ship ker the prime cut. Now our government, the B.T.B., are saying that they have done this by the book so we cannot take no kids either. Seem like the cruise ship with all the cash are buying the government, buying B.T.B., buying NICH. And it is a shame. And they can take away my tour operator license, they can take away whatever they want, but vote…they wah vote them out. Dah noh me. I dah only one vote, but they wah vote them out for doing the stupidness every day. These people consult over a month with David and Mister Tom and we came today with a good hope that they could have helped us. But you know what, the embarrassment and the shame is for Dean Barrow and his government because Dark Night they have no regulation. Chukka have no regulation, but we the Belizean local tour operators are being over regulated, brother.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Have you guys found out who the principals of Dark Night are?”

 

Yhony Rosado

“Boss, dah wah mystery. Just now we try ask that question…”

 

David Almendarez

David Almendarez

“We asked about Dark Night. They said we are not here to talk about Dark Night; we are here to talk about forty-eight inches. We have a lot of issues that we have been confronting. This book has been turned into law from May, we understand. From May of this year, this book was turned into law that regulates the forty-eight inches. In ten minutes of conversation just now, we showed them so much loopholes that this book was poorly made. We asked them for a simply solution just now. You know something, you are not regulating Chukka, you are not regulating Dark Night. You say you are going to regulate them; regulate us when you regulate them. That’s fair in any way. And they said no. We gotta meet, we gotta talk, we gonna get back to you before the end of the week. People at upper echelons of NICH do not have the local tour operator and the native Belizeans at heart. How can you enforce a low on us saying it is mandatory for all archeological sites—Health and Safety Policy Manual for Archeological Sites. Dark Night gets no regulation. Chukka that uses the same caves as us, don’t get the same regulations we get. We ask them to give us time to deal with our bookings that we have already booked. They cannot help us, we got to wait till we meet, all kinds of things like that. how can you tell your local people who put you up there to defend us that the foreigners can continue to work without regulation and we are going to be hammered until you decide that you are going to meet and then you are going to try to give us a magic wand? We are calling for the head of Diane Haylock.”

 

Yhony Rosado

“Tell them David that they told us three weeks ago that they are working on it and today they came that no plan. They say it is the first time we are hearing about this and the first time we getting together. And David and Tom Greenwood were being tricked. Every time, every day, every week; after almost a month and to come to the same thing. But you know what, like I said, politically it is stupid. I don’t know much about politically, but I know we vote every five years and then they are losing votes because of their wrong decisions brother.”

 

Vitalino Reyes

Vitalino Reyes, Proprietor, Cavetubing.bz

“They don’t want to have any solutions because I was telling to them that we have a lot of issues. Every day we have a lot of issues with the children right. They are not forty-eight inches but they are forty-seven inches and they are seven and a half years old or six years old. And these people promise an adventure to their child and when they come here, they are not allowed to go. And it frustrates me because not only they would do that professionally, but also the tourism police would try to provoke, insult, offend and threaten us in front of the tourists. Everything that happens there is negative to Belize and not just to my company and to one of the guides. It is all about Belize and then it only applies to us local tour operators and it doesn’t apply to any other. So that’s why it is unfair and I was asking B.T.B. and NICH if they can just give us time for us to continue the same way until we can email them and say maybe communicate better and bring your child for the forty-eight inches…belong that you cannot go or you can choose something else to do. But today, I had to go river tubing just that the people don’t be mad at me. I can’t charge them nothing. I don’t just lose money, but respect because they tell me that you don’t know what you di do. You don’t know the laws in Belize. And that is what is hurting a lot of us. We are trying to tell them that we are humans and these laws that they have…we don’t know anything about that and they implement without notice and without emailing us or telling us anything. So that is the point that they do not understand that you apply it first; just left it, check it good and then when they decide to apply let us know at least one week before and then we woulda be happy with that.”

 

In a release prior to the meeting, NICH said the agreement with Dark Night Cave Tubing Adventures Limited, signed in September of this year, is valid for only three years. So tonight, this is where the dispute between tour operators and NICH remains…unresolved. 

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2 Responses for “FECTAB Walks Out of Meeting with NICH and B.T.B.”

  1. belizeanatheart says:

    I think David has hit the nail in the head. The profit interest of the organizations like NICH and BTB does not care about the political votes, they are operating for there own gain convincing politicians that this the best move. I think that it reaches a point that the executive bodies and persons do not care about people and livelihood, this is what triggers people to want to change party. Guess after all this UDP government has not come to its senses, they are doing good in infrastructure but they are losing people, who have the power to change them.

  2. writer says:

    Every one has their right to agree or disagree with whatever regulation or standard that is in place; however…those mandatory standards that came into effect the past May followed its due protocol and process prior to becoming an S.I.(mandated by the Standards Act in Belize). Before becoming a regulation, consultation meetings were carried out country wide, notices came out in newspapers (again, as mandated by the Standards Act)…additionally, there was a period in which comments from the public was being accepted (which was the perfect time for any tour operator or anyone from the public to express their disagreement on clauses in the document to be taken into consideration). its just too sad that many Belizeans wait until something affects them directly to decide to educate themselves and then ‘beat up’ about it when they should take an interest in being involved in things happening in the country and speak up when they should. Its similar to when transport started to enforce lights on bikes…there was a huge backlash by the public for things that have been in law for years!

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