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Aug 21, 2013

FECTAB joins B.T.I.A. in criticizing recent MOU for Harvest Caye mega tourism project

Tom Greenwood

Since proposing the introduction of cruise tourism through public consultation back in October 2010, residents of Placencia have strongly opposed the expansion of the sector into southern Belize.  Despite an unsuccessful bid at transforming Crawl Caye into a world-class destination, Norwegian Cruise Line has been green lighted by the Government of Belize to develop nearby Harvest Caye.  A recently signed memorandum of understanding between the Florida-based company and G.O.B. grants Norwegian a twenty-five-year concession as the sole cruise terminal in the south.  While the conditions of the agreement within the MOU, as well as its witnesses have been met with harsh criticism by the Belize Tourism Industry Association, particularly a provision allowing N.C.L. to collect the bulk of a seven dollar head tax, the approved terms are also being disputed by another industry stakeholder.  This morning, the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize, FECTAB, convened a press conference to express outrage over the content of the M.O.U. and a subsequent release issued by Norwegian to the Miami Herald.

 

Tom Greenwood, President, FECTAB

“We just came up on these documents a day and a half ago and we read the MOU and we read the release by Norwegian and we thought, “hell, there are two different stories here.”  And besides having read completely through the MOU, we’ve realized some grave weaknesses within the MOU.  The MOU is telling us that the people who put it together for us, and we have our government people and we respect them, don’t really know how the cruise lines operate.  They’re here one day and gone tomorrow.  If an investment takes place such as Harvest Caye and something isn’t satisfactory it’s easy for these people to juggle things around.  It’s easy for them to sell the island, get rid of it, go, leave it to somebody else, whatever. What we have is a scenario where going for something that pays eleven percent against something that pays eighty-nine percent, but what is worse is that that release by Norwegian to the Miami Herald is telling us that we must plan for the next two years.  We must plan for the next two years to possibly not seeing any life out here.  We’re going to jeopardize something that’s established for twelve years in Belize City for something that is going to be enclosed on an island in the south of the country, against the wishes of the greater tourism association. If we as a people do not rail up and, you know, stab to the heart this kind of nonsense.  Godwin Hulse, what happened to you the brother?  I mean, my God you started off as an icon for us and I respect you for that because yo gah wahn big mouth like me, yo ready fi talk and all ah dat.  Godwin you’re a part of this!  Erwin Contreras, honorable minister, you’re a minister.  I don’t think you know much ah weh di happen deh.  Michael Singh, Michael Singh, me only gah one word fi you boss, ah cyan use it pan television.  Suffice it to say that you, Michael Singh, sitting at the head of this, are going to cause damage, you’re causing damage to whole load of people.  Wih got di Garinagu di rail up, the Maya are in a state of confusion because all of a sudden, “ah mein, you know dehn wahn use wi name again and weh wahn get?”  And the people of Belize City, who are, by and large, no fools at all, know that two years potentially and many of us may not have bread and butter to take home.”

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