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Dec 17, 2014

COLA Holds Protest Outside FSTV Zone

Today in Belize City, over one hundred protestors converged near the Baron Bliss Lighthouse to point a way forward for the cruise tourism sector. For several years now the issue of a cruise port docking facility has taken center stage with tour operators, led by the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize (FECTAB) loudly calling for its implementation to save the industry and their jobs. But there is an impasse between the owners of Fort Street Tourism Village and the proprietors of the Stake Bank Project, and the Government is not willing to get involved. COLA President Geovannie Brackett says that must change if the industry is to develop to the benefit of all Belizeans. He called for a holistic approach to the sector’s development.

 

Geovannie Brackett, President, COLA

Geovannie Brackett

“The Government has given the green light for Stake Bank to go ahead; we have one contract that is standing in the way. We are calling on the government to inject itself into the conversation and to bring a solution. Cruise tourism is a very vital industry to our culture and I don’t need to go through the merits of it; it is self explanatory. In addition to that Renee, is also that what COLA is saying is not just to build a port, but we are saying to do a holistic approach to this. We need a port, push forward a port, but push forward with the locals in mind. Put legislation in place so that the current situation that we have right now with FSTV that it doesn’t happen again with a new port. So we are saying that B.T.B., NICH, everybody come on board, put Belizeans first, let Belizeans get a bite of the pie; expand the pie by building the port, but put legislation in place that we can have an industry that is benefiting all and not just a foreign interest.  We have moved forward from a press conference to this demonstration which means we are gearing up. COLA, you would know, we believe in direct action. Today, this is a small symbolism; every tourist that passes by will see our signs as your cameras can take a shot later on, with the Royal Caribbean sign and the Diamonds International sign in a circle with a cross through it. We want them to take that back to the U.S. to let them know who is holding us hostage. We have begun to partner with our international partners to sound this alarm internationally. This is the first move to internationalize our current situation. We are not against cruise tourism. What we are against is any business that sidelines locals that doesn’t give equal benefits and equal opportunities to locals. COLA has not been around for the last ten years, but we are here today. And so we are taking action today and we are joined up with FECTAB and I am pretty sure that this is the first of many more actions to come.”

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