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Nov 24, 2016

Lean Harvest for FECTAB Operators at Exclusive Harvest Caye

They were worried all along about potentially losing business. But according to the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize, even they did not anticipate a blindside like what has happened since Norwegian Cruise Line’s Harvest Caye island property opened one week ago today. The source of the problem is a view that the cruise line reneged on promises to send only new ships to the island instead of the ones that traditionally call at the Fort Street Tourism Village in Belize City. The solution? The Government must fix it. The Federation was in full effect at the Radisson this morning. Aaron Humes reports.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

To the victor, go the spoils? If you ask the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize, the game was decided long ago. Today they hosted the press at the Radisson Hotel to basically say, “We told you so,” about the end effect of the private island getaway known as Harvest Caye – where, they argue, the local tourism operators have little to no input. The multimillion dollar tourist destination has barely been open a week, but local operators say that they have been shut out from the island they derisively refer to as “Alcatraz,” and have been losing greatly on what they consider their prime clientele.

 

Yhony Rosado, Tour Operator

“Sixty to seventy-five percent.”

 

David Almendarez

David Almendarez, Tour Operator

“Prime cut. Of the prime cut.”

 

Yhony Rosado

“Sixty to seventy-five percent, Jules. Sixty to seventy-five percent, sixty to seventy-five percent. If I was making a thousand dollars, on a cruise ship day, I’m gonna make two-fifty. If I was having three, four tour guides, I’m only gonna need myself. So we’re losing – in fact, I could tell you, we are doing a press conference on a cruise ship day; there’s actually a cruise ship out there. We almost did it yesterday…”

 

David Almendarez

“When we had two. (Chuckles)”

 

Yhony Rosado

Yhony Rosado

“Only had two. But I’m telling you for the question that the media asked, that how much we are losing, we are losing sixty to seventy-five percent.”

 

Reporter

“But a lot of those losses have to do with the prevailing conditions in the cruise industry here in the City – because of the movements of Chukka, and the arrival of Carnival and so; it is not all related to the Norwegian withdrawal.”

 

Yhony Rosado

“No, man, directly, directly, directly to Norwegian.”

 

The situation has deteriorated to the point that Almendarez says he has advised potential clients not to book at all with Norwegian, and turn to rivals Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines respectively, despite his antipathy for them.

 

David Almendarez

“We have people who are booking tours – actually I have a lady who just canceled her tour. And that’s what I am telling my guests: don’t book with Norwegian; because they are not selling you Belize, they are selling you a fake Belize. And a couple of them have canceled and shift over to other ships. Because what they do is, they don’t give the customer, the client, the guest, the itinerary exactly – the idea is not to have them know that when they come to Belize, you can’t do a lot of the things you used to do here. And you have families who have been vacationing here every six months, every five months, they come often. They come here because they like meet Yohnny, they like the cashew wine, they know Speedo, Richard good pan the cave – you would be surprised a lot of these people do the same tour over and over and over and over again; why? Because where they’re at, they stress out, and when they come with we – [they] relax. [We] treat them with love, and that’s what they basically come here for. But the way Harvest Caye is designed now, nothing that goes down to Harvest Caye is designed for us to pick up. They have totally, totally, totally cut out the local tour operators. The only way you can get money from Harvest Caye, is if you become a slave and go to work for those big tour operators.”

 

Almendarez says he has never been denied access to any part of Belize except for Harvest Caye – unless he becomes a cruise ship tourist himself. But he believes it is not too late for the Government to intervene – and for Norwegian to start playing fair.

 

David Almendarez

“I di call on my Government fu fix it. I wahn see the di agreement weh you sign with ah, whe you show di other day, weh she no ship fah yah fi go down deh, and if ship di go down deh, I wahn know why and who change it and how, because we neva liad when you say that never mi di happen, and I wahn you fix it. Our resolution is we want fair and open access to Harvest Caye. We want when our customers book with we, they have access to get to we; let them out of Alcatraz! Because we di get bookings from unu, and we di get bookings from people di come pahn your same ship weh want our services; weh noh like fu unu services, and if we can’t find a way to get our business out of it, we will have a problem, N.C.L.”

 

And according to FECTAB president Tom Greenwood, the issue may have to be sent to the courts again – this time by those who book tours with local operators and wind up miles away from where they wanted to go.

 

Tom Greenwood

Tom Greenwood, President, FECTAB

“I think it is time that FECTAB indeed look at the legal ramifications of what is happening to us. Not just that, but also the whole business of how Alcatraz came about. The fact that – this is a piece of Belizean land to which there is no access. Where is the sixty-six foot access rule, where does that lie in terms of Alcatraz? We need to go legal and check this out.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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1 Response for “Lean Harvest for FECTAB Operators at Exclusive Harvest Caye”

  1. Simone says:

    Let me try to understand this-they mad cause they are not down south and no one from down there should make money too if they don’t? and because their website can’t advise clients that they should book correctly, now the government is at fault? this crybaby clown and greenwood also admit that they both owe money but its victimization to shut them down if they don’t pay? they want to fight, trespass , threaten, pull gun, beat up other tour guides and their kids and not pay bills? no wonder no cruise line wants to deal with them. How they got money to rent the most expensive hotel in Belize each month? and how dramatic can they get? Body Bags?mangles on that brown kid? alcatraz? they should be put there and imagine the wailing then. What next? Tenders should complain because the Norwegian boat now docks up to the island so they are shut out too? If its private property, anyone, belizean or foreigner can stop you from trespassing and breaking the law communists. I buy my own thing, you should buy yours and shut up all of you. I prefer watching President Trump on TV than these drama queens.

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