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Jan 27, 2011

2 proposals tabled to end Cruise Tourism Crisis

The crisis in the cruise tourism industry broke on January third, when tender operators first heard that Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian wanted bigger tender operators to ferry tourists to shore and at a lower price per head. Normally at least three large ships could be seen on the horizon with thousands of tourists ready to spend at sites throughout the country. But today, the Voyager of the Sea was only one ship that called on Belize.  Millions of dollars are being lost because the cancellations go beyond the operators and extend to hair braiders, tour guides, taxis, and a slew of traders.  And of course the families of these stakeholders in the industry and the local economies that they support also suffer when they do.  According to tourism officials, there are currently two proposals before the cruise lines for consideration.  But while stakeholders hold their collected breath in anticipation of a breakthrough, News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports on the current status of the industry.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

It has been a little over three and a half weeks since the issue of tender operations within the local cruise tourism industry reached its boiling point.  Despite numerous meetings and correspondence, including an official delegation led by Prime Minister Barrow to Miami to discuss the matter with cruise line executives, a resolution is still not in sight.  In fact, while there may have been great strides in arriving this far in dialogue it would seem as though they’ve barely moved beyond the point of submitting proposals.

Lindsey Garbutt

Lindsey Garbutt, C.E.O., Ministry of Tourism

“Where we are right now is that there are two proposals in to Carnival and we are waiting for their response on those proposals.  Two proposals from two different entities that have been involved in tender operations for years so we are waiting for their response. Both of those offered to Carnival the provision of tender service involving a mix of local operators which is what we have always been saying at what they consider to be their bottom price.”

While tender operations is only a microcosm of the cruise tourism industry its ripple effect is staggering.  Carnival, over the past four days has cancelled five of its ships from calling to Belize.  Undoubtedly, others in different aspects of the industry are feeling the pinch.

Seleni Matus

Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism, B.T.B.

“You have stakeholders that very much stand behind the position that government is taking to support the Belizeans and small operators involvement in tendering moving forward.  And then you also have those voices that, you know, will be impacted that are saying well have we done all that we can to find that sweet spot because in the end we will feel pain and so from a government standpoint at the negotiating table we have been very deliberate and measured in our approach to ensure that were balancing these divergent perspectives on the situation.  And more importantly holding very firm on, you know, the expected outcome which for us was an outcome which involved the local operators.”

isani cayetano

Even with a difference of opinions on government’s position the situation at the end of the day translates to a loss of revenue.  The industry has lost an estimated eight hundred thousand dollars based on the average expenditure per visitor per week.  Despite those losses Garbutt says the message G.O.B. has sent from the beginning remains lucid.

Lindsey Garbutt

“The message that we have sent out as government has been very consistent from the beginning.  We welcome your business but we need to be sure that whatever form tender takes in the future it must involve the local tender operators.  We recognize youre saying that you want bigger tenders and as government we are willing to work with our local tenders in whatever form.  [If] we need to concession, loans through the DFC to bring them up to the level of standards of tenders that you are requesting.”

That request has since shifted from vessels with larger carrying capacities to a firm demand that visitors pay a fixed rate of five dollars U.S. to be ferried to the Fort Street Tourism Village.  That price point, by operating standards, is not viable.  According to Matus the length of time taken to resolve the issue speaks to the complicated nature of their discussions.

Seleni Matus

“I believe that everyone is looking to bring it to a close as swiftly as possible.  The length of time that its taken, I think, is only a function of the complexity of the discussions being had and governments insistence on some very key considerations.  We expect however, that by this week or by early next week at the latest there should be more clarity on the situation.”

The Belize Tourism Board says that contrary to what has been said in the media, it  reaffirms its commitment to negotiating in the best interest of tender operators but only time will tell whether the goal post will be moved again. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

On Friday, the Federation of Cruise Tourism Association of Belize (FECTAB) has scheduled a press conference about what it says is the mishandling of the tender situation with Carnival/Rick O’Shea that is costing all Belizeans and to issue a final warning to the B.T.B.

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13 Responses for “2 proposals tabled to end Cruise Tourism Crisis”

  1. Robert says:

    I wonder why everyone seems to have been surprised by the cruise lines’ move, and unprepared to respond to it. Big companies don’t make decisions overnight.

    Everyone connected with the tender business fell down and was asleep at the helm on this one. It’s really a problem for the tender operators to organize to solve, not BTB or politicians. Isn’t there a tender operator with any business savvy in Belize?

  2. bigg sexxy says:

    So the big cuise line wants to tell the GOB what they think the tenders should charge to be ferrying to the shore of Belize wow, now who tell them how to charge the passengers no one, so wye are they telling us how to do or business, come on now wye are we supposed to sacrifice for them drop the price and fuel and everything in the world is going up,I`m pretty sure they are not dropping the price of tickets, if you ask any of the passengers they will tell you they have no problem paying to land in BELIZE NONE AT ALL, THIS IS JUST A WAY FOR THE BIG CRUISE CO. trying to bully there way into Belizean lively hood and passing down the savings to Belizean tenders, hold out look how they are playing the cat and mouse game parking the ships where you can see them and then send one in this is nothing but a hiest.

  3. BZNinCALI says:

    Let them go, next, they will demand control of the shops where the passengers disembark & have our people working there for minimum wage if we are lucky & dressed up in ridiculous outfits. Look beyond the immediate loss of income, we now have a foreigner who has taken control of the local tender business negotiating with Carnival with the blessing of one idiot who could not see beyond his greedy nose & they have already made their deal. Damn what happens to the rest. We do not deserve the higher standard of living that decent wages from this industry might afford us because in these peoples world, the man who dies with the most toys win. Take a good look at the people we are negotiating with & face reality.

  4. reggie says:

    The games is over for you all ferry owner.I can see at least 50% of you guys out of business rite now.i know the gas price is hurting you guys.that is why you have to get ur $7.00 person.But Guess what let the Pm get to work and low the gad price so you can make a living.how stupid can he b to let you all suffer,You All can see the pm is only good in court. wake up my people.He is not for the people.HE IS FOR HIM FAMILY AND HIS CREW WHO YES SIR HIM .UR VOTE PUT HIM THERE TAKE HIM OUT NOW.

  5. Earl Grey says:

    Give up $2.00 on the water AND MAKE $20.00 ON LAND………………..IT’S A NO-BRAINER.

  6. jose says:

    the cruise liners are getting tired of so many delays that they will move their operations out of Belize. That would be the most appropiate action when dealing with incompetents.

  7. fromafar says:

    Robert, u coined it and this is just the beginning, we are living in a continuously global society and everything is at risk.

    The reality of i it is that if a Belize stop is not econimically viable for the company they will stop comming, plain and simple, regardless of what we think.

    They do not, and should not have to care about the tenders well being.

    Welcome to the world of business Belize, get with it already!!!

  8. John Boy,Carson,Ca says:

    Fromafar you could not say it no better.

  9. Skywalker says:

    This whole thing was doomed when the PM went to Miami to negotiate. It made us seem desperate that at the first sign of trouble, we sent the highest official in the country to do our bidding. If any member of government were to go it should have been the minister of tourism. However, I can see why Dean-O needs to be a one man band when getting real things accomplished is concerned. As much as we criticize them, we also realize that Dean is the best of the worst when it comes to these UDP politicians. What a sad state of affairs we would be in if ANY ONE of the other UDP ministers was PM. Not even an exaggeration. ALL of them are incompetent beyond belief. Anyways… Like George Price said, becoming a tourism based economy would make us a country of second class citizens and beggars. That is exactly what they are going to have to do to get Carnival back; beg.

  10. CEO says:

    Lindsey my buddy! Have not seen you since high school nonetheless congarts on getting the job where you are now! I hope to see some real changes or at least talk of changes that will help Belizeans.

    Why do we have to wait to see what they say. At some point we need to tell them what will happen. There should be regulations in place so that when they come to town they know who they need to employ to shuttle their passengers. The company they use should be Belizean owned and it should not be some shell company owned by foreigners with a Belizean Face. This would be a good change. Let’s not allow the tail to wag the dog anymore! You need to suggest legislation-ordinances-policies etc and send that to the cruise ships sop they know what will happen when they call on our ports. Let’s really look at how they are impacting our ecosystems because if they screw up what we have they will just go to the next port when nothing is left in Belize.

  11. rod says:

    come on belizeans dont you see whats going on this is another avenue where hte pm barrow is putting one of his family there to take over he has done it in every other part of gov. you see he just granted the biggest concession of oil exploration to who who who ill tell you who to his nephew thats who and now this will also go to one of his family or friends so stop bickering with each other and look to the pm of this country he has already assigned one of his family members or friends to take over this business deal also wake up beliseans wake up and the name of the oil exploration company is paradise energy limited and guess who is the major shareholder no other than kimano barrow thats who this pm nephew see what am telling you belizeans this pm and his family are eating steak while the rest of us fight for the bone and in some cases the mear shadow of the bone so let it be written so let it be done.

  12. John Boy,Carson,Ca says:

    I do not understand my people.Carnival is in buisness to make money.They are investing millions of dollars by bringing cruise ships to Belize.Some Belizeans would like equal share of the profit , and that will not happen.One slice of the bread is better than no bread.It is not like Belize have other options.

  13. shock says:

    Some very arrogant Belizeans, proud with nothing to back it up. Your Priminister come from the same stock, Yes the tour ship will go out of business if they don’t stop in Belize. Why don’t you guys spend a little time on the Internet and look at the many exciting spots in the world and see how Belize look compare to those other places. All it take is for a few bad press about Belize and how tourist are treated and you are in deep——you know what. Be a little humble, or is that asking too much? These folks has the right to demand who take passangers off their ships, because if anyone get hurt in the process they know what can happen to their business. Insurance companies just don’t pay claims on demands if its a big claim without doing investigation, and if they find the ship operator to be at fault, for sure they will be face with higher premium.

    This is not a mama papa business for them. Did you all who are talking aboiut dictating about what they should do or not do ever stop to realize that one ship owner has by far a bigger budget than your country? If you want their business, then comply. I believe that you all need them more than they need you. Many who read this responce will not agree with me, but you need to see the raw facts and stop feeling sorry for yourselves. The negative assessment of the tourist industry by one of your former Priminister was very short sighted; in light of the fact that major economies around the world has spent, and continue to spend billions upon billions of dollars to get market share of the tourists business. Its like any other business, it deserve serousness in order to reap the benifits.

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