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Jul 16, 2013

Placencia Tour Guide Association says emphatic no to Norwegian Cruise Line

Mary Toy

The ministerial sub-committee that rejected Norwegian Cruise Line’s request to develop Crawl Caye inside the Belize Barrier Reef was tasked to inspect another proposal by the cruise line company. Harvest Caye lies outside the protected zone of the World Heritage Site, but a potential development of the island could possibly interrupt local commerce on the Placencia Peninsula. Area Representative, Rodwell Ferguson, has been making the rounds in surrounding villages about Norwegian Cruise Line and he has publicly pledged his support of the company. Finally, he held a consultation with some Placencia residents on Monday night, it was a closed door meeting and the Placencia Tour Operators Association sent a press release to vehemently oppose mass cruise ship tourism for southern Belize and specifically Norwegian Cruise Line’s proposed port at Harvest Caye. News Five spoke via phone to Mary Toy, a conservationist and resident of Placencia, about the latest developments.


Via Phone: Mary Toy, Conservationist, Placencia

“What I’m telling you is what I’ve heard from people who were at the meeting. And I have spoken to the chairwoman of the Placencia Cillage Council, Elsa Villanueva about it. People were told at the meeting that a Memorandum of Understanding with Norwegian Cruise Line had already been signed six days ago. My understanding is that that is not the case and the village council in Placencia has confirmed that there is no announcement from the government of Belize so I have no idea why that statement would have been made because I don’t believe it is true. The village council and the tour guides were told that since the MOU had been signed, it was a done deal and what they needed to do now was in introducing cruise ship tourism that they needed to sit down and decide what they wanted to get out of this because if they didn’t do that they weren’t going to get anything. The Placencia Tour Guide Association was very strong at the meeting and continue to oppose to mass cruise ship tourism. The village council Placencia supports that. The Seine Bight  village council said they needed more information and apparently the Independence Village Council is in favor of cruise ship tourism in the south. Emilio Zabaneh was at the meeting. I believe he is a member of the village council of Independence—although they have not been formally sworn in yet—he said that he was very much in favor of Norwegian Cruise Line once they use the Malacate area for something—tendering ships or maybe storing tender boats, whatever they wanted to do, he was in favor of it. A lot of what went on today in Placencia was that people were upset that no one from the public was invited to this meeting by Mr. Ferguson. To my knowledge, this is his first time he has ever set foot in Placencia since he was elected. So it is interesting that he felt the need to call the meeting and then restrict the attendance because I think if he wanted to know what the people thought, he would have invited the people. Today there was a media release from the Placencia Tour Operators Association. They have come out publicly in opposition to mass cruise ship tourism for the entire southern Belize and specifically for Norwegian Cruise Line for post port at Harvest Caye. The reasons that they gave in the press release was that mass cruise ship tourism is contrary to the national tourism policy for southern Belize as expressed in Belize’s newly adopted and Cabinet endorsed national sustainable tourism management plan. That mass cruise ship tourism will have a detrimental effect on the south’s low-impact overnight tourism which has no economic benefits and the economic benefits from cruise ship tourism are definitely out-weighed by tourism.”


The Placencia Tour Guides Association also pointed out that local sites are already at or over their carrying capacity without the ability to accommodate mass cruise tourism numbers.

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6 Responses for “Placencia Tour Guide Association says emphatic no to Norwegian Cruise Line”

  1. Kevin McNamara says:

    Is it the want and desire of all the vendors and business owners throughout Placencia Peninsula or the tourist day/overnite touring companies that are against this? The people working in and around the area have a right to voice their opinion on improving their revenue as well, do they not? If NCL is wanting to build a ship docking facility outside the protected zone, and promises to employ Belizean residents, and allow free enterprise to Placencia, WHY NOT?
    Though we should be aware of conserving our environment and heritages, we owe the world the opportunity to share the cultures and beauty of the Belizean people and lands. Perhaps Ms. Toy has a regular income that allows her to live as she pleases, and she is an expat who wants to place her will and beliefs on the people. I ask her, whats your stake in this? Are you employed in the tourist trade, or do you receive a pension or SS?
    Let the people decide their future, after all God gave us the right of free will, and to be the master of our destiny. The elected officials are in place to do the work of the majority, and to better the life of their constituents, if a more mass tourism does this, and allows for the elevation of the peoples income, without harming our reefs and waters, then why not?
    You cannot stop progress, but you can steer it!! If we turn our backs on the world, and not share the history, the majesty and beauty of the land and people, then we have failed the people of the world miserably my friends. If we don’t share, how do we expect the rest of the world to care?

  2. Zodyak says:

    These Ex-Pats on the Peninsula don’t want the Garifuna people of Seine Bight to eat bread. They are all about making money for themselves. If this project should be approved, they would loose a large portion of their workforce, to whom they pay meager wages at best. To hell with them. This is our country and it’s time we get involved in real and meaningful employment.

  3. Initiate says:

    Very good couter point there Kevin McNamara! Noted!

  4. Mustard says:

    First, why is it, that you all call “foul” on an expat, she is a Belizean now, and, the people of Placencia have said what they want, and they say “no”, the tour guides are BORN Belizean, so, why the racial remarks,;.No one appreciates that any more, grow up, GOD, did not give you the freedom of speech, the GOB did, not GOD, and, who are you to say that GOD is the master of our destiny, you are the only one who is the master of your destiny. I think you should really find out who Ms. Toy is, Hope you get a job with the cruise ships raking the beach, if there is one left to rake, after they get thru with southern Belize and then move on to another poor country that just looks at the quick money and not about their country. And, yes, Ms. Toy employs lots of fisherman, so , before you open your ignorant mouth anymore, check out who you attack, you lone rass.

  5. LazerFox says:

    Fortunately the people of Belize have seen these foreign hypocrites before and the smarter ones are no longer buying the garbage they are promoting.

    Belize needs good paying jobs, education and opportunity. Belizian’s want to send there kids to good schools, own a home and a vehicle and even take a little holiday once a year. Many of the foreigners that are promoting no cruise ship are worried that they will now have to pay their under paid yard person another $5 Belize per day, so they want it stopped under the silly guise that it will ruin the environment.

    Reality check, Harvest Caye where the cruise ships will be docking is on the main shipping channel to Big Creek. This is the same shipping lanes used by oil tankers and large container ships everyday. Where is the concern regarding these vessels. This protest is just fabricated nonsense.

    They are saying the islands will be ruined, more nonsense, limit the amount of people that can visit certain islands and demand that the cruise company pays for the cleanup and monitoring, demand that grants are set up for local business people to get start up funding for new businesses so they can benefit directly, demand apprenticeship programs, and a re-evaluation the agreement every 5 years and make changes to whatever is not working for the people of Belize.

    By limiting the amout of people on the island, opportunity will exist for more islands to be developed to fill any new demand. This is how good paying jobs are created for Belize.

    The plan allows buses to go South to Punta Gorda, for the ruins, cocoa farms, unique Mayan villages, and water falls, etc. The ladies that leave home in the South at 4 am to get to the junction to get the bus everyday to sell their wares in Placencia, and Hopkins will be able to stay close to home and have the tourist come to them.

    To the North, caves, the zoo, horseback riding, Jaguar reserve, Ruins, national parks, waterfalls, river trips and numerous cultural sites, etc.

    Placencia offers beaches, gift shops, and restaurants and hopefully a few hundred people per cruise will visit. This is a big boost for tour operators, boat operators, guides, taxi operators, restaurants, gift shops, and this new income will spread to all businesses providing jobs and opportunity.

    Finally there is a plan so the people of the South and the middle of the country can benefit directly from the growth in the tourism industry.

    People of Belize ask any location that has cruise tourism now, if they would like it stopped. The answer from Ocho Rios, Jamaica, to Skagway Alaska is HELL NO!

    The posters on all these sites that do not live in the country can say what they want to say from their US $40,000 plus a year jobs. The average person in Belize who is lucky to have a job make less that $10k per year and pays over US $5 per gallon for gas.

    This plan is not perfect but it is a big step forward and the government should be applauded and the people should embrace it. Negotiate away the negatives and build on the positive but do not throw the baby out with the bath water.

    Foreigners and local Sh*it disturbing expats, this is an issue for Belizian’s to decide, please sit this one out.

  6. dd says:

    There seems to be a mistaken idea that cruise companies pay well. they do not. they will offer current tour operators half of what they currently recieve running their own business. They will force them into a take it or leave it situation. The cruise companies are bad partners. Cruisers will not spend money in town…..maybe a lunch but that is it……then leave their garbage.

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