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Feb 11, 2011

Minister of Tourism speaks about accident that killed a tourist

It was last week Wednesday that American tourist, Diana Mechling, was killed when the propeller from a catamaran she had traveled on, cut her on the right pelvis and leg.  For almost a week the matter was under investigation before any regulatory body issued any kind of statement.  Then the Belize Port Authority issued a release saying that the captain of the Reef Rocket, Martin Pariente, had been temporarily stripped of his license and the vessel was also prohibited from operating until the investigations were complete.  And according to the Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia, there should be enforcement of the laws and weaknesses in the system such as professional training are lacking.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism

“I definitely believe that there is some negligence on the part of: first I would say on the part of the captain and crew that were running the boat because any captain, the first thing that you need to do—how many people are going on the water and how many people have come into the boat before you are ready to rev or do anything. That dah the first thing that you need to do.”

Marion Ali

“The snorkeling expedition never happened because they were just getting into the water when she somehow got under the vessel and was cut fatally.”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Yes, but I don’t know if you are aware; before when you are about to anchor, they will either—if there is mooring, they will moor and then they will have a chat and brief all the guest or tourist you have over there. This is the way things are done. This is the way things supposed be done.  If that wasn’t done, then something is wrong because that is the first thing as a trained guide that you are taught to tell the people exactly what are the safety regulations and everything.”

Marion Ali

“One of the people I spoke took told me that the waves were rough that day, the sea condition. So then it would have required even a normal day for a crew member to be in the water with the tourists.”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“There is a number of crew to the number of passengers—I think it’s about eight to one; no more than that. If you have less than that then again I think that is negligence.  The next thing that I think, on my side is that we need to do more training cause right now there is a training but we need to have the practical part of it also. Many of the people who that are tour guides come from college and so on—it’s easy for them to pass their exams—but the physical part of it that to me is the bigger part and we need to concentrate a lot on that.  In the part of also lets say—be it Coastal Zone or Fisheries, whatever; they also because many times they are making monies out of these areas, but there is not really the enforcement part of it. And I think and I always maintain it while I was at Fisheries Advisory Board and other group like that that Belize has the best laws but its enforcement is poor, very, very extremely poor. And I agree that that needs to be addressed.”

Marion Ali

“So how will it be addressed under yourself as the minister?”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“I need to speak to both agencies—Coastal Zone, Fisheries, whoever, and Port Authority—we need to sit down together and come up with stiffer regulations and better enforcement.”

The incident happened at Goff’s Caye where Mechling was snorkeling along with other cruise tourists.

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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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1 Response for “Minister of Tourism speaks about accident that killed a tourist”

  1. BZNinCALI says:

    You are the Minister of Tourism, how can you not know who the relevant licensing & enforcement agencies are? Are we so incompetent that no one has figured out that a camera & mike to
    Manuel is like a cross & garlic to a vampire.

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