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Jan 4, 2011

Foreign catamarans threaten to wipe out locals in cruise tourism

There’s a crisis looming for small boat operators in cruise tourism. We can confirm tonight that an exclusive contract to a foreign owned company can wipe out local tenders who ferry visitors to and from Norwegian, Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise ships. That’s because, as we told you on Monday night, the three cruise lines are negotiating an agreement with a Hawaii outfit for direct tendering. It means that the locals, who invariably cannot compete with the well established US Company, will be out of business. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the latest on this story.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The possibility of consolidating existing tenders that service different cruise lines visiting the Jewel weekly has raised the ire of a number of boat owners who operate in that particular business.  On Monday News Five broke the story of two catamarans which have entered the country through the Port of Belize at Big Creek to be used for the ferrying of passengers to and from cruise ships moored off the coast of Belize City.  It is our understanding that Pride of America, the owner of the vessels, is seeking an exclusive contract to do business directly with the cruise lines.

Following a recent meeting of Carnival reps with EuroCaribe Shipping Services in Miami tender owners are now being told that their crafts must have a seating capacity of a hundred and fifty passengers to secure jobs transporting tourists.

jason marin

Jason Marin, Tender Owner

“Carnival are saying that the local tenders that are locally made and built here are not safe anymore and that they are not going to use any tender that don’t have a capacity of a hundred and fifty passengers which automatically boxes out all the small men just to benefit wah foreigner.”

Among those small men is Myron Marin, proprietor of Three Star Tours.  Over the years Marin has invested heavily in his company and now fears that the introduction of higher standards, which he believes was done to undermine small operators, will run him out of business.

Myron Marin, Tender Owner

myron marin


“We only have the max of up to a hundred and twenty passengers.  So basically what they’re trying to say is that all the local operators are actually not going to have a job again.  I’m here standing along with the other guys totally clueless as to what’s happening.  We’re basically going on what people are saying, [the] little information that is being thrown in our direction but still, nothing clear, nothing to say that I know exactly what’s happening more than Thursday I have no job.”

According to David Almendarez he too will be forced to terminate the services of his deckhands.

david almendarez

David Almendarez, Tender Owner

“If things stand the way they are I have no employees because basically they have called us and said they will not use us.  So if they don’t use us I can’t use my employees so basically four people just lost their jobs as a result of this move and every Belizean, and every true born Belizean in the tendering industry has literally been boxed out and all the money now is going to the foreigners.”

For small stakeholders in the cruise tourism industry it’s another strange twist to an already volatile situation.  This change comes on the heels of a newly implemented zoning project in the Fort George area.  Marin says their next move is to seek an audience with the Ministry of Tourism.

Jason Marin

“The next step will be we’ll see if we could get an audience with maybe the Minister of Tourism or the Prime Minister to see if he could support us in any way because our house is on the line I mean we have big investments [and] huge, huge debts to pay with the banks and these guys are coming in.  I understand they are getting concessions.  It’s really; really ridiculous they are raping the country.  It’s like what Mr. Greenwood says we are walking down the street with just a shirt on and from the waist down there’s nothing.”

If the deal goes through, Pride of America will succeed in monopolizing the local tendering business, further alienating local stakeholders who have invested their lives in developing the cruise tourism industry in Belize. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

There is still no word from the Belize Tourism Board and we are still to find out who’s putting the deal together.

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41 Responses for “Foreign catamarans threaten to wipe out locals in cruise tourism”

  1. ang says:

    well !@$$ part of our bze pkg is roughing it so cruises cantcchange what we offer as tourism pkg

  2. rootsman says:

    Guys you are all wasting your time, speaking to the PM he is not going to help. This situation did not happened overnight first it was the hair braiders and the tour guides now the tenders, it was well planned and a betrayal to the Belizeans by their leaders, all he is going to do is play dumb there is no way something like this could happen if the GOB was working in the interest of Belizeans, they are all working for their pockets it is time that the matter is taken to the streets, I say run the cruise tourism out of town if Belizeans cannot benefit what is the use of having cruise tourism.

  3. BZNinCALI says:

    The irony of it Mr. Marin, if you had a boat that seated 150, they would have asked for one that seats 160 because they have decided to keep their money in-house & don’t give a damn about Belize. The banks that are holding your notes, also need to show up & remind the PM & Minister Heredia of the ripple effect their decision will have on our overall economy.

  4. Edward says:

    Bend over grease up and let the Government take care of its people and protect their lively hoods by holding you the born Belizean tax paying citizens down so foreign big business can show you as much love as this administration has shown us so far. So Mr. Jason Marin if you are reading this you said “The next step will be we’ll see if we could get an audience with maybe the Minister of Tourism or the Prime Minister to see if he could support us in any way”, this is the level of help you may receive because in case you haven’t noticed not very many things happen in this country without the governments consent.

  5. reggie says:

    It is a very sad for the owners and the employe.but what else is new one sell out the Airport.and the new one is selling out the Village.wake up my people words is not making it happen.It is all about fighting for ur rite.Stop cry.You are seeing your Family Future going down the drain.as you talk they are making it Happen.ACTION SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.

  6. mmmmm says:

    well, there’s obviously a use and a benefit. Cruise companies are mainly worried about potential liabilities, and a bigger tender owned by a bigger company with better insurance policy and safety standards, able to unload passengers in any type of weather etc. seems to me is the obvious choice for the cruise liners. This might encourage more cruise boats to call in Belize, or encourage more passengers to get off the boat….Each passenger pays a dollar tax to the city plus environmental tax to GOB, and the passengers that come off the boat will still tour the city/country and promote jobs in locally owned industries. I don’t think is that horrible. just puts Belize’s service standards up at comparable levels with other ports of call. Choice is ours Belize, evolve and change or perish. Not sure why channel 5 has chosen that headline trying to fuel up a fire that is not that big. the man said 4 people were gonna loose their jobs. Maybe 20 others will get a job with the new company? grow up belize

  7. cg says:

    Belizeans betraying Belizeans….it’s been happening our whole lives…..you want to start somewhere, look at the local Shipping agents who reap more benefits than you and make all deals locally…and then work your way up

  8. Oscar965 says:

    We as a country stepped into cruise tourism without looking at the fine print. First of all we barely have the basic infrastructure to entertain cruise tourism. We have too many untrained individuals who are basically just hustling the tourist. Belize City nor any other town in Belize is ready for tourism and those who say they are basically just think about how much money they make. This deal was signed a long time ago…we are going to end with the sh__t end of the deal. So why do we have a Belize Tourist Board???? (oh yes for press conferences)….they have about a dozen of them all filled with empty promises….and hmmm our elected officials are basically the same.

  9. prettygirl says:

    I agree with you we as Belizeans need to stand with our brothrs and sisters in the tourism industry we need to say NO to Cruise tourism because its only the foreigners are getting the money what about our locals. what else will GOB do bring foreign tour guides?

  10. Bob says:

    Wake up People of Belize, this is what the big cruise lines do to every Country they invade. It’s all about control of the local market. Their specialized vendors are controlled by the Cruise Lines. Business men in Cozumel have learned this over time. The Big 3 will push aside the local businessman and will eventually own the port, it’s tenders, it’s shops, it’s land and if you want to be a part you must rent from them. Stand up to them, the Crusie Lines need destinations, and fewer destinations means lower revenues for the Cruise Lines.

  11. UniqueBlackRose says:

    I agree with Rootsman 100%. It is time Belizean take a stand for what is right and what they deserve. That is our birth right and no other country should be able to come there and tell us what we can and cannot do. Nobody can’t come to America and tell an American what to do. I say take a stand for what is rightfully yours!!!

  12. mr. ok says:

    Here we go again

  13. SadcaseforTourismInBelize says:

    It is not surprising what is happening in Belize because we have a porous government. How can a huge U.S. company come into our country and take over the tour business from our people. Those people who are in the tourism business have to stand up and protest for their rights. How can a foreign company come into our country and take over and the government of Belize just turn their backs. Were are the rules and regulations, where is the so called tourism board who are constantly soliciting for foreign visitors to come to the country and look blindly at the injustice that is happening to our small companies who are barely making it because of all the bureacracies. Come tour guides and tender owners stand up and fight. Don’t let those monopolizers come in and and take food off your table and clothes off your backs. The company in the U.S. who wants to take over the tourism business in Belize are lining their investors pockets…all they see is dollar signs because they can predict that in the coming years there will be a boost in tourism in 2011 and beyond. COME BELIZEANS STAND BEHIND YOUR FELLOW BUSINESSES AND OWNERS, FORM A UNION FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS AND FIGHT….GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND THINGS WILL WORK OUT..GOD IS GOOD!!!!

  14. Al says:

    This is a sad situation when the people of a country cannot benefit from the economical opportunities of the country it is a sad day. This government are not standing up against these big american business, they may as well just sign the company over to foreign governments. You think crime is high now, you aint seen nothing yet. Wake up Belizeans, the only people profiting here the politicians. I agree with rootsman, take to the streets learn from Haiti, refuse to take any more, let the PM and his goons hear your voice, march on Belmopan and on all government offices. Stop being victims become victors.

  15. Dre says:

    This is another slap in the face to the Belizean people. WHy would the GOB allow this to happen unless their hands are deep in Carnival’s pocket. We cant afford more foreign businesses taking over local oppurtunities. When will it stop. We need more jobs not less. It seems like a no brainer to anyone looking on but why does the Belizean people have to suffer!!!
    GOB granting concession to the new Tender that is even more insane!!! How can we compete with this!!!!

  16. commenter says:

    And the good people of Placencia have nothing to fear from any future Cruise Tourism in their village. “We will all prosper”

    Yeah, right. Look and learn people… Look and learn. You will be next.

  17. belizean gyal says:

    This is so sad to listen to. All our hard working Belizean Tenders on the verge of loosing their livelyhood. Going to the GOB seem to be the logical thing to do but will it do any good. There is no way possible that no person no part of GOB had no knowledge of these two Catamarans have entered the country. Why they didn’t inform the locals is outragous and shows the Belizean public that the GOB has no interest in the our country’s well being. They would throw our country to the “DOGS” for what? It wall comes down to one thing. The people “up there” want to stay up there and they hard working people are the works who “wa have to tek the lick and suffa fi it”. We need to take a stand. Local Belizean Tenders operations and owners please don’t take this lieing down. Its time for the Government to know Belize is for Belizean.

  18. zane gibson says:

    it’s a very sad situation that is happening in this country. It seems we can no longer say this is our country cause everything is being owned by foreigners we no longer have a say in this country. sad that only one set of people keep on benifiting , tourism is no longer a Belizean thing. belizeans are losing their jobs everyday no wonder the crime rate can’t go down, but the P.M doesn’t care about the people of this country all he cares about is the load of money he is receiving under the table and to hell with the people of belize. He knows that his U.D.P government will not win the coming election so he has to grab all the money he can from now it’s a crying shame.

  19. Disappointed says:

    This is a disgrace…….that is all I can say because I am stunned about the things going on in Belize just shocked and disappointed……..

  20. ap says:

    This is out of the little hands of our government. Belize should have never started cruise tourism. End of story. All these local guys could have served their country better by investing millions in eco-tourism. We would all be much better off for it.

  21. zipota says:

    Does any voter in Belize have a backbone or do you like getting trampled on by the government?
    How can you stop crime if the Belizeans keep losing opportunities for a better life to the outsiders? Wake up Belize!!! Speak up and take action. This is your right. All the tour guides, hair braiders and now the tenders, STAND TOGETHER in unity and don’t allow outsiders to kick your butts. Have some pride, you deserve to be heard and acknowledged and to be given the first chance.

  22. The People Had Enough says:

    RUN THEM OUTTA TOWN, BURN TIRES IN THE STREETS, PLACE SIGNS SAYING ‘TOURISTS ARE WELCOME, BUT NOT CRUISE SHIPS”

    We always say we never fought for anything and more than likely never will, but we will have to trust me.

  23. Carlton says:

    . Sincef there is a market for this service; private banks must be encouraged to provide loans to the operators to obtain necessary equipment. If the boats are too small and unsafe; there are coast and insurance issues influencing the decision of the cruise lines. Lets see this as an opportunity for the Belizean operators to upgrade and and be more productive.

  24. Thinker says:

    Thinker, It’s a real shame that the Belizean people always get the left overs. These people will totally be out of business if the deal goes through with Pride of America,a Hawaiian business. The deal must be pulled out with somone in government. When will the government open their eyes for the Belizean people? so many guys are already out of a job. what will happen with their investments? Anyone out there that has to do with this deal (gov’t) you can’t see what’s going on? Come on! It’s of no doubt that someone is getting paid good money for this deal to go through. as usual!

  25. simon says:

    THESE CATAMARAN OWNERS ARE ALL MULTI MILLIONAIRES , ALL OF THE SUDDEN WANT THE PUBLIC AND GOVERNMENT SUPPORT ON THIS ISSUE. THESE GUYS KNEW THE REQUIREMENTS OF DOING BUSINESS WITH THE CRUISE COMPANIES BUT THEY INSISTED IN BUILDING BOATS THAT CAN ONLY CARRY 120 PASSENGERS. THESE NEW BIGGER BOATS WILL BENEFIT THE BELIZE ECONOMY BECAUSE BIGGER BOATS MEANS CRUISE PASSENGERS WILL SPENT MORE TIME IN BELIZE THAT WAITING FOR SMALLER BOATS TO PICK THEM UP. LET FACE THE FACTS HERE, REBUILD THE BOATS ACCORDING TO THERE STANDARDS CONTINUE DOING BUSINESS WITH THE CRUISE COMPANIES!!!

  26. louisville,ky says:

    It is high time for all the local stakeholders in the tourism industry to take a stand and defend their livelyhood. Look ya, the time for conversation is over, as it is very obvious that those in a position to protect the interest of the struggling tour operator have absolutely no desire to do so.
    In unity there is strenght, so you all need to come togather and show, in no uncertain terms that you will not allow, the little crumbs from this huge pie, taken away from you. Get it straight folks, at this speed, it won’t be too long before you all will be literally on the outside of the tourism village looking in.

  27. chabelli says:

    This ya crowd haffi go and never to return. I do not want another PUDP JUST NEW PEOPLE TO RUN LOCAL AND MATIONAL GOVERNMENTS. I AM SO ASHAMED THAT WE CANNOT ERAN AN HONEST LIVING DUE TO ZONE AT TOURISMAND A MORATORIUM ON TAXI

    .

  28. sds says:

    TIME TO ORGANISE AND TAKE TO THE STREETS

  29. Stanley Wright says:

    What century are we living in? There are no country in the world today that is allowing this to happen to them.When Barrow is out of office and,have his millions,he will leave Belize and Belizean living on hard times.Belizeans this problem by any means neccessary,just like Malcolm X said.Belizeans should learn a thing or two from Mexico.No foreigners can’t go into that country and run nothing.BELIZE FOR BELIZEANS.

  30. The Educated One says:

    As a Belizean, I’ve done several cruises and the tenders that they use aren’t LOCAL, they are also not the type of boats we have in Belize…did a cruise to Belize too…the tenders in Cabo San Lucas are huge, do seat quite a lot of people, it’s safer. The drivers of those tenders, the people that work it are the LOCALS though….so those that lose their job can apply and go through the training necessary by that company. All the Government has to do is TAX them approriately….it’s business people, not a HUGE cruiseliner worrying about the local flock….sad but true.

  31. ivan cal says:

    LIKE smoky joe used to say ‘MONEY TALKS AND BS WALKS…….ALL A DEM MINISTERS ARE THE SAME R@$$ SO CORRUPT,ONLY FI DEM POCKETS NOTHING ELSE,LETS’ FILL IN OUR POCKETS BECAUSE WHEN WE ALL GET KICKED OUT A GOVERNMENT WE WILL BE RICH AND NO HAVE FI THINK WAT WE WA EAT FI MANY YEARS THATS THE MENTALITY OF THIS UDP GOVT’.THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORST NO JOBS D DE..ITS LIKE WE ARE IN A DEPRESSION NOT A RECESSION….WE CAN ONLY IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES’. BECAUSE THE REALITY IS ANOTHER.

  32. common sens says:

    Rt. Hon George Price once stated that tourism will turn Belize to a nation of waiters. We are seeing this first hand.

    Economic servitude – how many hotels are Belizean owned? How much of this money from the cruise industry is staying (or even entering?) in our country – I’ll answer….a few crumbs scattered in the direction of the BTB, hair braiders and wood carvers etc to fight over like pigeons fighting over a small piece of crust (check out how a group of pigeons flock and fight over a crumb, how it gets tossed in the air from one mouth to the next, a few lucky pigeons get a taste, majority expend energy for nothing).

    Economic servitude – The hidden masters, am sure, are laughing away in their skyscrapers many thousands of miles from Belize. We dont agree with them – they can reschedule cruise ships to stop at another location/country with very little notice (if any).

    “A nation of Waiters”…..time to return to where the real income, strength and sustainability is located in our country – Agriculture.

  33. EL CHE says:

    How sad,this monopoly will go through,and signed and handle by some law firm in belize that is owned by some minister.its time for belizeans to stand up anstand up,fight for your rights.someone in here said that dean barrow can help them,hahahaha,dean barrow like all politicians in the udp and pup mafia dont give a !@#$ about you belizean.dean barrow dont care about his son,much worst a stranger.get real.

  34. EL CHE says:

    EXCLSUSIVE contracts for cruise line owners means,contracts,concessions,and this contracts are made in belize by lawfirms owned by dean barrow and the other lawyers who are ministers.so,they are the ones who who are goin to make money by creating this contracts.dean barrow,like said musa care about thier law firms,not belizeans.

  35. reggie says:

    WELL I GUESS LUKE ESPAT WILL BE THE ONE MAKING MONEY AFTER THE PEIR IS FINISH .ALL SHIP WILL DOCK THERE. SO THIS I THINK IS A WAKE UP CALL FOR ONE AND ALL.MAKE UR MONEY NOW OR LOOSE EVERYTHING .SAD TIME IN OUR COUNTRY.

  36. BZNinCALI says:

    Let’s remember that when Bakabush took over the interior tours, the excuse was that the cruise lines was familiar with them & was doing business with them in Jamaica & one of their officials suggested that they would take their business to Roatan if Belizeans did not grip their ankles. The excuse is always that what we have is not good enough.

    Wasn’t Minister Singh in Miami attending a cruise tourism promo or seminar last summer, maybe he can explain who approved this move.

    Carnival’s cruises are inexpensive because they make money on the other services & excursions they offer. By allowing them to turn business owners who are now operating their own boats the opportunity to become their employees is a slap in the face to every one of these men who have worked their behinds off to get whatever they have, they will be paid what the company wants to pay them. Next they will be asking them to stand on the gang plank doing a jig to humor their clients. Ask the Filipinos who are waiters in their restaurants. I detest violence so I don’t agree with setting the catamarans on fire but blockading them will get the point across & our coast guard should join in, call it CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.

  37. Elgin Martinez says:

    We the Belizean people need to step our game up and stop these foreigners from dictating to us.Only in Belize.There you go again Mr Barrow all about yourself.Business as usual.

  38. Josie says:

    THAT’S WHAT AMERICA IS ABOUT GOING TO ANOTHER COUNTRY LIKE A BULLY, NO WONDER THEY ARE PAYING THE PRICE AND IT WILL CONTINUE. BELIZEANS DO NOT TAKE THIS SITTING DOWN EVEN IF MEANS DOING WHAT HAPPENED WHEN WE GOT POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE BACK IN THE 80′S. BOTH THE PUP AND THE UDP ARE ALIKE NO DIFFERENCE. THE PUP WERE GETTING RICH AND RICHER WHEN THEY WERE IN POWER AND THE SAME THING THE UDP IS DOING AND ABOVE ALL PUTTING FOREIGNERS ABOVE THE LOCALS. FIGHT BELIZEANS THE JEWEL IS YOURS AND IF TOURIST REALLY WANT TO VISIT BELIZE THERE IS OTHER MEANS THAN CRUISE

  39. Earl Grey says:

    THIS IS A DEFINING POINT IN THE HISTORY OF OUR NATION.

    NOW IS THE TIME TO ORGANIZE and prepare to TAKE TO THE STREETS….. SHUT IT DOWN!!!

    YOU NEVER MAKE GOOD MONEY WORKING FOR SOMEONE ELSE……
    INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED.

    WE GOT INDEPENDENCE SO THAT WE CAN BE A FREE PEOPLE……. not for this!!!!

    GEORGE PRICE WAS RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. rusty says:

    This cruise line industry has sure become a royal mess to our country. If it is not one thing its another. I believe when these cruise lines got their contracts signed by the former government, Belizeans were not considered as the prime beneficiary of the different income and possibilities. Now that the cruise line owners has their contracts signed they want to do their transfers accommodating suiting their passengers. I don’t even know if there was an agreement stating they should hire X amount of Belizeans on these cruises???? On the other hand, I am not so sorry for the greedy Belizeans that made loans for their investments to accommodate this tender. Belizeans have to start becoming more united and get everyone to invest in these operations and not just have a certain amount of operators make all the money for themselves?

  41. Consern says:

    The late President Reagan said that real negotiation should not be done from weakness. Unfortunately we are in a dam if you do, dam if you don’t situation. I take the same positon as Carlton, since it is big business, and if the government of the people really want to look out for its citizens, perhaps the government should co-sign loans for Belizeans so that they can provide the type of equipments they say are required. This would be calling the bluff of government and these blood suckers.

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