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Mar 15, 2017

Tourism Minister Says Problems in South Being Fixed

Still on the tourism industry…Is the honeymoon over for Norwegian Cruise Lines? Their Harvest Caye project was intended as an exclusive footprint in Belize for the cruise line, which shared the Belize City port with rivals Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines among others. But the company has, for unknown reasons, reduced its port calls to Belize entirely amid concerns with vendors onshore Belize. Caught in the middle is the Ministry of Tourism; Manuel Heredia Junior says that they have had to intervene.

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation

“They have less visits to Belize than before…”

 

Reporter

“You’re talking overall?”

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Overall, they have less visits to Belize than what they used to have before, but they have added much more additional to Harvest Caye, which is to say that together, Harvest Caye just that particular destination, I believe that for the year they will be over three hundred thousand (visitors) just on that particular destination. And there are issues that we need – little issues that still need to be addressed with the people that work in that surrounding (area). The Placencia one, we have managed to come to an understanding, and we are hoping that we will do likewise with Independence and so because it works both ways. Our people are reluctant or want to do and get this and the other their way – the cruise lines, they have their way that they operate; so we have to be like the referee over there, trying to make sure that everybody gets the best results that they want.”

 

Reporter

“Any particular issue that you’re referring to there?”

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Particularly right now, I think we are working very hard to see if we can better the numbers and it’s not easy. Last year we had a thirteen percent increase; anything that when you get to that range, it’s not easy to surmount that number. Even the World Tourism Organization can tell you, if you maintain your numbers when you get to that extent or you’re doing one percent less or one percent more, you’re doing good. I am hoping because the two months, January and February, have been a little over the thirteen percent – I am hoping that from what I am seeing, that we will be able to do a little better than last year.”

 

Reporter

“And here in Belize City, I believe you said that other cruise lines are taking up the initiative to bring passengers, and there is still the issue of a cruise port that needs to be settled; what can you tell us about that.”

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“I am sure and confident that in speaking to the cruise lines that there are other lines that want to come to Belize; so if we say for instance that Norwegian decide that they will be pulling out of Belize, there are at least two or three – one European cruise line and two other cruise lines that want to take that vacuum. I believe that Belize (City) will only increase together with Harvest Caye; but I don’t see how the number of cruises that come to Belize will get less.”

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