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Aug 29, 2007

CitCo: new cruise policies need support

Story PictureWhile officials of the Belize City Council are concentrating on the flooding concerns in the old capital, tonight we are informed that a letter has been sent to the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association informing them of the council’s plan to get the area around the Tourism Village under control. That letter is meant to bolster the position that was put forward in Miami today by Tourism Minister Godfrey Smith as he met with the F.C.C.A.’s Operations Committee to discuss the concerns raised by cruise lines visiting Belize. News Five’s Janelle Chanona has more.

Zenaida Moya, Belize City Mayor
“So It is serious, I believe it is serious. As was informed to us, it is not easy to get back ships, the easiest is to have them go, but it’s not easy to get them back.”

That’s the reality facing Belize’s cruise tourism industry tonight as officials respond to the threat of cruise ships cancelling calls to the old capital due to numerous complaints by their passengers. High on the list is harassment and traffic congestion. According to Belize City Mayor Zenaida Moya, her council has already made plans to address the situation. One of their ideas is to turn Fort and North Front Streets into a sidewalk market.

Zenaida Moya
“We already have secured different beautiful, colourful tents and umbrellas whereby it will be very coordinated. Those persons come the start of the tourism, the cruise tourism season, this November will have to use tents and umbrellas of this type because we want everything to look good. We don’t want any tarpaulin and…”

Janelle Chanona
“It will still be on the street?”

Zenaida Moya
“Initially, we will have it along the sidewalk craft market, which I believe people saw that we have moved all the little pallets and all that, and it will look really really neat. There’s other countries that also have it along the sidewalk. We will also still be working on ensuring that, as it pertains to if we can do anything further with another craft and vendor markets in the future we will do so.”

But Moya admits the new rules will require the cooperation of everyone working in the tourism sector.

Zenaida Moya
“We will really need their support, it’s all about ensuring that we get the stake holders support to ensure that those policies that we have already agreed upon will in fact be implemented in coordinated fashion. And when our representatives go and meet with these officials in Florida that they will understand all the efforts that we are trying to do and that they will appreciate it, understand, and try to work with Belize as one of their current main port.”

In addition to the new policy guidelines, the Belize City Council and the Belize Tourism Board have held a series of training sessions for tour guides, tour operators and taxi drivers in an effort to promote standards of professionalism. Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

The Belize delegation meeting with cruise officials in Miami include Minister Godfrey Smith, Belize Tourism Board’s Vice Chair Teresa Parkey, board member Russell Longsworth and Product Development Director Anthony Mahler.

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