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Aug 1, 2013

B.T.B. and Tourism Ministry fully support Norwegian Cruise Line’s Development

Tracy Taegar Panton

The Harvest Caye project has come under heavy opposition by environmental groups because it is believed that NCL is getting the better of the deal. There is no word as to how the seven U.S. dollar head tax will be divided, since the draft proposal calls for four U.S. dollars to be given back to NCL. But would Harvest Caye divert the current cruise ship calls from Belize City to the south? B.T.B. and the Ministry of Tourism disagree. They say only NCL ships would disembark at Harvest Caye and there would be jobs for at least a third of the year for the unemployed.

 

Jose Sanchez

“The numbers for pocket cruise tourism is in the vicinity of two-fifty to about five hundred passengers. Can you say definitively that these numbers will not be exceeded when it comes to different sites and destinations?”

 

Tracy Taegar Panton, C.E.O., Ministry of Tourism 

“We can manage that very easily. And we manage that by the capacity of each site that will be determined by the co-managers for those sites, the B.T.B. and the destination planning committee in the south. And so we don’t want to violate the very thing that people come to Belize for; that is certainly not the intention of our ministry.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“And that will be balanced with whatever numbers are coming in from their competition, from the other cruise ship that comes to Belize?”

 

Tracy Taegar Panton

 “Let me be clear. What the developer is proposing is a cruise island destination. And so certainly for now only that developer will be allowed to bring ships to that destination. So it wouldn’t be a case where any of the cruise ships that are calling on Belize City port right now could be diverted to that island.”

 

Laura Esquivel-Frampton, Director of Tourism

Laura Esquivel-Frampton

“And in fact, we’ve been very clear on that and they have been clear on that. The idea is not to dilute the number of persons coming to Belize City, to this port. The idea is to grow the tourism product; to grow the numbers on a whole.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“Tell me about the jobs. How many jobs does this developer propose to have for Belizeans?”

 

Tracy Taegar Panton

“Between eight hundred and a thousand jobs.”

 

Laura Esquivel-Frampton

“This is direct jobs.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“And that is for the one hundred and thirty calls per year. What happens to the other two hundred and thirty five days per year for those people?”

 

Tracy Taegar Panton

“What happens to those people now? And how many of those people are currently employed by the overnight tourism sector? Let’s be clear, overnight tourism is the mainstay of tourism in Belize. Cruise tourism is considered incremental business and it creates incremental opportunities. That is what we are saying. We are not saying by any means that cruise tourism will overrun the south. And we are going to develop cruise tourism in the south in phases. So here is phase one that will allow a hundred and thirty calls primarily in the summer season when there is limited overnight tourism in the south and people will be given an opportunity to work three days a week versus working no days a week.”

 

Laura Esquivel-Frampton

“And so it is a question of you telling somebody, well you are going to make a hundred dollars a week when right now they are making zero dollars a week.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“Okay, next question. The head tax; the seven U.S. dollar head tax. The first draft proposal we’ve seen calls for four U.S. to be returned to NCL to give money to oversee any damage that may be done to the environment. Will that remain the same or does that need to be revisited? What’s the actual agreement? It doesn’t say.”

 

Tracy Taegar Panton

“I don’t think that the new MOU says what that revenue sharing agreement is. There will be a revenue sharing agreement; the head tax is seven dollars…we can confirm that. but in terms of how that seven dollars will be divided is still yet being negotiated between government and the relevant agencies that are involved.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“For most persons, they would say that that four U.S. dollars return—at least in the proposal, the draft…”

 

Tracy Taegar Panton

“Can I be clear. The draft document that B.T.I.A. seems to be privy to is not the document that has been negotiated with the developer. So that document is no longer valid. that was a first proposal that was tabled by NCL and over the last two months, government has negotiated with the developer on those terms and conditions. So that is clearly not the document we should be operating from.”

 

The B.T.I.A. received a copy of the Tourism Ministry’s press release moment ago, and they promise to respond on Friday. 

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2 Responses for “B.T.B. and Tourism Ministry fully support Norwegian Cruise Line’s Development”

  1. Bulba Martinez says:

    Lock she down da Lamada to. “For the love of money is the root of all evil”.

  2. Bulba Martinez says:

    Lock she down da Lamada to. “For the love of money is the root of all evil”.

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