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May 30, 2017

Placencia Peninsula Readies for Harvest Caye Tourists

After years of back and forth, visitors to Harvest Caye will finally be able to enjoy the natural wonders of the peninsula. Local tour operators and other stakeholders had been agitating to benefit from the tourism boom in the south. Beginning today, passengers of Norwegian Cruise Line are being transported on a new pier to Placencia to enjoy the local cuisine, arts and crafts as well as tours. All in all, it is expected that this new venture will increase economic activity in the area. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Noriko Gamero

Noriko Gamero, Director, Destination Planning and Cruise, B.T.B.

“This two hundred and seventy-five foot long concrete pier was overhauled and inaugurated under the sustainable tourism project on September fifth of 2013 under the partnerships between the Belize Tourism Board, the Ministry of Tourism and the Inter-American Development Bank. This facility was designed to cater to both fishing and the tourism industries.”

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Starting today, Norwegian Cruise Lines passengers officially began being ferried from Harvest Caye to Placencia offering those tourists the opportunity to enjoy the natural beaches, local foods, crafts and tours. The new tendering service will provide an increase in visitors to the peninsula by a maximum of three hundred and sixty persons on cruise ship days and is expected to create economic activity for local stakeholders.

 

Noriko Gamero

“An additional traffic flow of people will create an economic boost for restaurants, artisans and operators bringing in an additional three hundred and fifty people on any given cruise day can now go on tours and enjoy our beautiful Belize. Think of it like another street art festival or a lobster fest. The same measures of control will be managed by the Placencia Village Council; any vendors will require a peddler’s license and applications are with the village council.”

 

After years of discussion with NCL, the Belize Tourism Board and other stakeholders, a Belizean company Cruise Control Limited was issued the license to traverse the tourists back and forth from the island.

 

Eworth Garbutt

Eworth Garbutt, Placencia Cruise Control Limited

“Today is a great day and a great example for what I believe is meaningful benefit for stakeholders and local entrepreneur. As you know we are the locals that got the contract. And the simple way the tender work is Harvest Caye sells the tickets for twenty dollars roundtrip. And we also have a dispatcher that sells tickets as well. But there are some tickets that are sold pre-booked, ahead of time.”

 

Now it is no secret that the Sustainable Tourism Master Plan for the Peninsula calls for pocket tourism and in the years leading up to this point, many resort owners and other stakeholders opposed this venture; claiming that it threatened overnight tourism. Village Chairperson Ilsa Villanueva says it was a long and hard journey, but stakeholders are now excited about the opportunities.

 

Ilsa Villanueva

Ilsa Villanueva, Chairperson, Placencia Village Council

“There has been pains. Majority of our local villagers are excited and ready for it….everybody calling me and saying I have my brochures, can you take them down there for me? Can you do this? And they are really looking forward to the extra penny especially during the slow time because it’s already hitting the slow season.”

 

…and the tourists are even more excited about the opportunity to explore southern Belize. Alex Benda is among the first group to disembark at the Placencia Municipal Pier. He says that traveling with Norwegian Cruise Lines from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Belize is really to get to know more about the country and what it has to offer. And coming on to the mainland gives him and his group that chance.

 

Alex Benda

Alex Benda, Tourist

“The thing that we really enjoy is that you get to experience the culture when you cruise. You get to go and see people and things that you are not familiar with and you expand and grow as a human being and learn more about the world. When we found out about Harvest Caye, we found out it was just an island, like Norwegian built and that’s not want we wanted when we decided to travel.  And we wanted to learn about the culture and see things so we decided to book a tour off the ship and come here and actually get to experience something beyond…if I wanted to go to a shopping mall, I could actually go to a shopping mall and see that. This is something much more real.  We are in a big group; we are actually in two honeymoons and a wedding. So some of us are going floating down the Rio Grande, some of us are going to see some Maya Ruins and I think some of us actually have no plans and they are coming over here and they are just gonna walk through the town and learn more about it.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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