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Nov 28, 2014

P.M. on Cruise Ship Cancellations

In the past few days the cruise sector has reeled and rocked after several cruise ships were unable to offload passengers in heavy winds and rough seas. For those not involved in the industry, it just happened. But the city lost hundreds of thousands in head tax, the country lost millions in revenue and tour operators, guides, and stakeholders suffered tremendous losses. The problem isn’t a new one. Neither is the situation it highlights. The country has no docking facility. In a nutshell, the Feinstein group has proposed one at Stake Bank, but the Fort Street Tourism Village has an exclusive contract until 2027. That’s simplifying it quite a bit. It’s a complicated matter which is currently in court, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy way out.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The pleadings I suppose underline the difficulty. The Fort Street Tourism Village is not only responding to Mr. Feinstein’s claim that the exclusive agreement with FSTV is invalid, FSTV is saying that we have an ancillary claim against the government of Belize for having represented that it was valid. Don’t forget that when FSTV got that exclusive agreement I believe that it was the same Mr. Feinstein who was the owner of FSTV or the predecessor company. We’ve now discovered that the Musa administration which had given that original agreement signed some sort of an extension to 2027 so we would dearly love if we could say to FSTV we don’t care, we will simply proceed with the Feinstein project, but no responsible government can do that. We have said to Mr. Feinstein give us an indemnity and we will proceed, but he’s not prepared to do that.”

 

Reporter

“Are you prepared to intervene considering the fact that that we do need a port two years from now because the cruise lines will be moving toward Oasis class ships?”

 

Dean Barrow

“Well I don’t know what intervention we could make…the matter is in court…”

 

Reporter

“A legislative intervention, as you have for BTL let’s say. Yes, it’s publicly owned but…”

 

Dean Barrow

“No I don’t think the circumstances warrant that and ultimately, clearly there has to be an alongside docking facility, but because of the weather and how it’s affected the cruise industry over the past couple days, we can’t simply in a kneejerk fashion do something that is going to be extremely consequential. We’ve had bad weather before, and we’re going to have bad weather again so while the search for a longer term solution must continue, I don’t see doing anything precipitate at the moment.”

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