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Jan 28, 2011

Tourism stakeholders ready to tell Carnival to sail on

Another issue that is having major ramifications has to do with cruise tourism. Tender operators are at a breaking point; the unresolved boat tendering issue has taken a toll after weeks of back and forth and still no solution. On Thursday, the Belize Tourism Board said that it supports local tender operators.  BTB has gone on record to say that the fixed rate Carnival is requesting is not economically viable. Carnival, on the other hand, has not backed off from its demands: they want larger tenders but to pay less per visitor that is transported to shore and back. Tender operators say they can’t afford the adjustments. Ten thousand visitors plus did not call in port this week due to Carnival’s cancellations and there’s a threat they won’t come back until the tender situation is worked out. So where is cruise tourism tonight? While future negotiations are not ruled out, the operators say they are prepared to call it a day with Carnival. Earlier today, the Executive Tenders of Belize Ltd. got the support of FECTAB at a press conference at the Princess Hotel. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Richard Gill, Tender Operator, Reef Beauty Tours

richard gill

“I’ve been around for ten years and I will say it over and over again, that is as much as we have been taking ships to Belize.  Royal Caribbean just listen to us.  Norwegian just get some more ships on the way.  If Carnival’s not going to listen [then] we don’t need to see those wings.  The airplanes have wings [and] we have an airport.  Bakabush workers [it’s] time for you guys to stand up and be Belizeans.”

Richard Gill, an experienced tender operator with over a decade of ferrying passengers to the shores of Belize City under his belt, was among a handful of tourism stakeholders who converged on the Princess Hotel this morning.  The occasion was another sensational press conference held by the Federation of Cruise Tourism Association of Belize to discuss the state of the industry in light of the recent cancellation of Carnival cruise ships calling on the country.  Joining FECTAB executives at the head table was Jason Marin who was recently named pro tem chairman of the local tender association.

Jason Marin, Pro Tem Chairman

“Carnival at the end of their financial year they could get up and boast about the millions and hundreds of millions of dollars in profit or billions that they bring in every year.  So why should we here in Belize take a price cut to put more money in their pocket when we are barely making ends meet?”

For tender operators taking a price cut would mean a three dollar loss in revenue as Carnival remains firm behind a fixed rate of five U.S. dollars per return ticket to their vessels.  According to Marin the shortfall would only make matters worse because they have been incurring additional operating costs since 1995, including the ever increasing price of fuel.

Jason Marin

jason marin

“From then we have been getting five dollars Belize per head per capacity of your vessel, from then, sixteen years ago.  Diesel was at three something a gallon, from then to now diesel is almost ten dollars and we as the operators have absorbed all those fuel hikes and price raise in everything and grew.  [We] went out there on a limb and grew.  We took the risk and built bigger boats to provide a better service to the cruise lines coming in—to provide more jobs for the local operators.”

Despite efforts to grow their businesses and create employment for Belizeans things are now at a standstill.  In retrospect Marin attributes the current situation to having allowed one cruise line to introduce its own tenders to the tourism equation nine years ago.

Jason Marin

“We made this slip as operators probably in 2002 when we allowed Royal Caribbean to bring in their tenders and we look back now and we accept that we made a mistake.  We should have stand up from then, from then we should have stand up to block them.”

tom greenwood

Hindsight aside, FECTAB president Tom Greenwood is against Carnival’s refusal to send its ships to Belize but is steadfast behind meaningful negotiation over tendering issues.

Tom Greenwood, President, FECTAB

“Look Carnival bring your ships to Belize.  Noh boycott us, noh blackmail us.  And while you’re bringing your ships to Belize negotiate with our Belizean tenders ok.  When the negotiations are finished and the tenders say nice deal everybody [will be] happy [and] we’ll start to work.  [If] that noh happen, weh he say wah happen wah happen.”

…and if push comes to shove FECTAB as an organization representing the majority of stakeholders in cruise tourism is prepared to support the tender association in sending Carnival packing.

Jason Marin

“We have enough boat eena our pool fu ker anybody weh wahn go wid we eena support fu wave dehn off goodbye. We have enough boat fu dat.”

Tom Greenwood

“And each one of us will be waving the Belizean flag.  Da time fu we become wah nation state.”

For now proposals have been submitted to Carnival by Maritime Estates and Belize City Tenders and are awaiting a response, according to the Belize Tourism Board, by early next week. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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9 Responses for “Tourism stakeholders ready to tell Carnival to sail on”

  1. Lucas says:

    It breaks my heart to see how this parasite of Carnival wants to trample upon my Belizean bros. and sisters. It is true that every investor has the right to see the fruits of his labor but not at the expense of others and Carnival wants to increase it’s profit at the expense of the Belize operators but, my father used to say EL VIVO VIVE HASTA QUE EL PENDEJO QUIERE. I stand shoulder to shoulder with my Belizean Patriots in telling Carnival : SCREW YOU. I understand that it will demand a great sacrifice on the part of our Belizean people pero Dios apreta pero no ahorca ‘…FOR YOUR BREAD AND WATER WILL BE PROVIDED’ (Isaiah 33:16).

  2. Outsider says:

    Stand up Belize, don’t bend to Carnival, kick them out. Its time the entire region stand up to these big greedy corporations. Next they will want to introduce their own buses for the inland tours. All these corporations want is to spend as little as possible and want to make all the profits for themselves. Time for Carnival to pack up and sail on if they can’t reach an agreement.

  3. Josie says:

    LET THEM LEAVE OUR COUNTRY, THEY ARE TOO BIG FOR THEIR OWN SHOE

  4. Carrie says:

    Big up the tenders. Its time for us to stand together no let no white man come and walk over us. They have been doring it for too long with the blessing of our Governments. I am with FECTAB and although I am not involved in this work I am proud of what they are doing and standing up for. When one door closes others open. So get CARNIVAL out of Belize!

  5. cg says:

    main, i’m speechless…Mr. Marin, hats off, never know you could stand up for yourself like that. Hopefull all turns out well for both parties, would be a loss to loose the vessels but we were all here before they came around…

  6. Gustav says:

    I am afraid greedy tender operators are going to rob the rest of Belizeans of the chance to earn money from doing business with tourists.

    The businesses who make money from the tourist should organize, and find their own ferries to bring the tourists ashore. Just cut out the parasite middlemen who are sending the tourists to other ports of call.

    Right now, our tender operators are scaring away the cruise ships, and sending our business to Honduras, Cancun, and Cayman. Smart move!

    There are plenty of the places in our region who are happy to treat the cruise lines and tourists well. They don’t need Belize.

  7. Lui D. says:

    The Carnival Group Needs Belize. so lets no get confussed about this. If they want to play so, let tell to stay away! They will come back in a heart beat. Belize is on demand and we need to stand for it! Long Live Belize, Long Live out Barrier Reef!!!

  8. jer says:

    Let this be a warning to all of us. No royal sendoff. Run dem bisness outta ya. Belizean people, govament officials, ministers n all. Di writing is on d wall. Stop dem grabalicous ways. Look at dis. we oil da sweet oil but e no sweet fi we. e sweet fi farinas. Di suga no sweet again. Di citrus dem no sweet again eeda. Di tourism sweet but e sweet onny fi farinas. So whe we stan? Whe wah happen to we. I hear tax gwayne up. u guys, mek wah stan cause if unu no do it now farinas wah kom in and run tings and deh no di run tings ya yet but diktatin to us take it or leave it. Just hope peaceful Belize no get too rowdy wid rebellion. We may jus reech deh. wen food scarce…… hungry man da angry man. Why unu tink man di drap evry day. deh di protek deh turf., mine e no spill ova eena dem areas a kanflik. we di reach deh slowly? hope not.

  9. Common Sens says:

    Careful:

    1. One prominent member of Fectab is the same guy that sat at the helm of Universal Health, DFC and now Croc Land…before liquidated.

    2. Remember a short while ago the battle over who would have control over the cruise ships making docking on land..Port was one spot and development of a Caye was another..in a short while it is unlikely that tendering vessels will be required, no matter the size and capacity.

    Mr. Greenwood, whilst I agree with your sentiments, please make sure you know the full story what is happening here before your good-meaning efforts will be distorted against you.

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