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Dec 15, 2016

N.C.L. Will Be Kept to Agreement on Hiring Belizeans

Godwin Hulse

A News Five crew was on Harvest Caye today at the invitation of Norwegian Cruise Lines. It is the first time the media was invited to experience the cruise port in southern Belize. We can say that NCL has developed a world-class tourist destination and we’ll have that report on Friday. But in Belmopan, member of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Investment at the time of the Harvest Caye negotiations, Senator Godwin Hulse, reiterated that NCL made certain commitments to the Government regarding employment and the right of Belizeans to trade goods and services on the island, which they must keep. Norwegian is insisting that it does not want independent operators for tour services to solicit customers on its exclusive paradise. It also claims that customers are explicitly informed that they are going to Harvest Caye now and not to Belize City, rendering claims by FECTAB-based operators of stealing their clients without apparent merit. Hulse says that negotiations are taking place.

 

Godwin Hulse, Member, Cabinet Sub-Committee on Investment                                                                                   

“When we started the negotiations with N.C.L., both in the MOU, it was clear that initially they would be able to bring twenty-five percent of foreign personnel, which they would phase out over a period of five years; but it was also crystal clear that when it came to tour guides, boat captains, and those, that has to be Belizean, unconditionally. I met with them yesterday, just to review that, together with Minister Heredia and Minister Panton as well as the senior staff of the B.T.B. and BELTRAIDE to reiterate that, and as I understand it, the Minister is down there from last night to today. N.C.L. has assured us that they are complying to the letter with the agreement, both in terms of hiring only local tour guides and people associated with that element, and also on the island, as best as possible hiring as many locals as possible. As you know, the catering has gone to Dustin [Bowen’s] company, and they told us that they have put up eight kiosks in which the Mayan group of women can display their articles for sale and that sort of thing. So it seems that so far they have been complying – the taxi service is being done by the Castillo Group, another local group. The one sticking point, however, was the sale of tours. And they are saying that they have always sold tours, like all cruise companies and continue to sell those tours; it does not stop independents from selling tours; but they do not want independents on the island to be selling tours from the island – in other words, they don’t want this rush to tourists to say, come with me, come with me. They are suggesting they have no difficulty with that happening at Placencia, or at Malacate, but not on the island specifically.”

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