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Dec 24, 2002

Crowd of cruise ships has Belizeans working hard

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For the children it’s the holiday that never seems to come soon enough. For the parents, however, Christmas always arrives too early, leaving us with not enough time, not enough money…and all too often, a severe shortage of both. But whatever our situation, the sun will rise Wednesday morning on a country ready for a few days of rest. What’s different this year is that for more Belizeans than ever, Christmas will be a day of work. No, we’re not just talking about police, fire and other essential employees. As News 5′s Marion Ali discovered, there’s a small army of entrepreneurs who will be up early on December twenty-fifth–and the jingle they’re after has nothing to do with bells.

Marion Ali, Reporting

With at least four cruise ships expected to visit Belize tomorrow, this will mean a merry, if delayed Christmas, for a lot of people whose livelihood depends on tourism. However, earning the big bucks means missing the traditional pleasures of a holiday at home. Today at the Belize City Tourism Village the mood ranged from the upbeat to the acceptance of the inevitable.

Thomas Longsworth, Manager, Mayan Treasures

“Tomorrow is one of our biggest days, I think we have like five ships in. the schedule says four, but I heard five, I don’t know. But even if it’s just four, it’s still a big day.”

Marion Ali

“So you think a lot of money is in that?”

Thomas Longsworth

“Yeah. More than any other day, so far, it’s one of the biggest days so far. I think we had one four day ship already a couple weeks ago, and that was a big day, so this should be bigger.”

Marion Ali

“So how do you feel about working on Christmas Day?”

Thomas Longsworth

“I don’t particularly want o work, but I have to. The responsibility comes with the store and everything else.

Ivalda Locke, Cashier, Savannah Collections

“My husband and my niece will be working too, so it’ll be nice to be here tomorrow.”

Marion Ali

“I hear a lot of cruise ships coming in, so I guess you’ll be making a lot of money.”

Ivalda Locke

“I don’t know, let’s see tomorrow.”

Zarina Vasquez, Sales Clerk

“I don’t really wanna work on Christmas Day, but I hope that we sell a lot of products and we make a lot of money tomorrow.”

Marion Ali

“Do you believe that Christmas day will be a good business day for the store?”

Zarina Vasquez

“Well we’re expecting four ships; hopefully none of then cancel. And I think it should be…I’m not sure how many people off each ship, but I’m sure it’s gonna be very crowded tomorrow.

Marion Ali

“Aside from making the money though, you’d prefer spending the day with your family.”

Zarina Vasquez

“Yes. My family will be here working, it’s a first time for me, Christmas is usually home with the family, but now it’s a working day, so I guess the only thing I can look forward to is work and selling stuff.”

Jose Villanueva, Salesman

“I don’t mind work, because home it’s nothing much to do, so it’s gonna be a little tough on me.”

Marion Ali

“What about the family?”

Jose Villanueva

“My family, I have to give them up for my job. It’s my job and I gotta do it.”

Cafe Amer, Salesman

“I eat everyday. To eat you spend everyday, you have to work everyday. I have party day when I noh feel sick, but if I noh feel sick I could work, I work everyday, I feel good.”

Marion Ali

“That’s by choice you work everyday?”

Cafe Amer

“Yes, because I spend everyday. If I work every day it good for me.”

Meanwhile, this lady became lucky when her boss gave her the day off.

Julia Anderson, Sales Clerk

“Well since it’s the holidays she said that I should be with my family and that’s very nice.”

Marion Ali

“So who will be working tomorrow?”

Julia Anderson

“The manager here will be working tomorrow with the boss.”

And for others, the tradition of a white Christmas was altered to the colour green.

Cecil Gill, Taxi Driver

“It’s all about money. People stay poor because they take too much holidays, unnecessary holidays. I have obligations, so I gotta work…Hopefully the tourists come off the ships and want to go somewhere.”

Jerry Ortiz, Taxi Driver

“I willing to work tomorrow and I’m gonna do my best for the tourists.”

Marion Ali

“Why are you working on Christmas day?”

Jerry Ortiz

“Because I need the money and I’d surely like to support my country, and I’ll be working with tourists.”

Llewellyn Martinez, Taxi Driver

“I’m volunteering to work. And financially, there will be money.”

Marion Ali

“How about your family?”

Llewellyn Martinez

“My family, I’m gonna take care of my family tomorrow after I’m finished from here. And I’m going to church tonight. From about ten o’clock I’ll be in church to welcome the Christmas day in church. And tomorrow when I wake up at 6:00 I’ll be out here to celebrate with the tourist.”

Alfonso Bol, Taxi Driver

“Our living is working as taxi driver. And it does not matter what day it is, it could be Sunday, Monday, it does not matter. Christmas day is just another day. If there is money to be made then I’ll be out here to make it.”

Imogene Neal, Hat Maker

“Because so much people will be coming, then I guess we’ll be making a good haul tomorrow, so we chose to do that, we chose to work on Christmas day.”

Marion Ali

“So you won’t be serving that ham and turkey?”

Imogene Neal

“I don’t think so, I don’t believe in that either.”

Dana Bryan, Artist

“I have a lot of things that I need to be rid of. And tomorrow we’re having I think the biggest crowd of tourists. I think it’s a good day to make some money, I will be here.”

Janet Bryan, Artist Assistant

“After Christmas finish you’ll be needing the money for the other day, and I think it’s important to get it while you can.”

For most of those interviewed, the scene will be repeated on Boxing Day, when two cruise ships will be in port. In addition to those working in the village, hundreds more will be driving buses and conducting tours at various inland and island destinations. All this, of course, is on top of the thousands of people, who will also be working over the holidays in traditional hotel based tourism.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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