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Jul 27, 2005

Carnival deal signed, sealed, ready to deliver

Story PictureIt languished in development limbo for over a year, but as of ten o’clock this morning, mammoth Carnival Corporation and local company Belize Ports Limited–with the government’s enthusiastic blessing–have signed the deal for a new fifty million U.S. dollar cruise terminal in Belize City. This evening at a hastily called press conference attended by Minister of Tourism Godfrey Smith, Belize Ports Limited’s Luke Espat, and some top brass from Carnival, the media was able to delve into some of the details. According to Carnival Vice President Giora Israel, Belizeans should not worry about being pushed aside when it comes to jobs.

Giora Israel, V.P. Strategic Planning, Carnival Corp.
?During the construction period–and I think we have made it public–during the construction period, with the exception of probably three specific cases, one is the pure design, the other one is the part of the land-based conceptual design, and the other is part of the maritime construction, these three will be offered on an international bid, just these three elements. All other construction, all other work, will only be bid on and offered in Belize for Belizeans. Also, those three specific contracts, which are about twenty-five, maybe thirty percent of the cost of the project, all those will also use local subcontractors, Belizean subcontractors. Regarding the operation from the day we open, from the day we open we don?t expect to use any non-Belizeans in any service whatsoever. Why should we, there are enough here.?

As for why the project took so long to come together, Israel says such delays are not unusual… and his company never lost faith.

Giora Israel
?We came here for the first time in April 2003. We liked what we saw; we were very welcomed by the Belize people and the Belize Government. And during this entire process, we never had second thoughts about doing the deal with this government and with the people of Belize. All the people have been very welcoming for us I must say. But let me explain, what we had in April twenty-eight of last year at the port was not a groundbreaking ceremony, it was really an announcement of the contract. That was the day we actually signed, as the minister indicated earlier, the agreement between us and government. From that moment on, a variety of issues had to, various ducks had to fall in the row to make it possible to reach today and this morning at ten o?clock in Mr. Espat?s offices we finally closed all those documents. It was just a question of timing to put the ducks in a row. It had nothing to do with our other projects in this region, we continuously were focussed on that project. We?re building some other projects, so sometimes we were not available and sometimes we had to wait for things to be completed. It just took maybe a little longer, but not exceptionally long from other projects. Some projects do take one, two years until you put all these ducks in a row. With all our ducks now in a row, we?re ready to go.?

And as for any lingering doubts about whether the world’s largest and most profitable cruise company would run roughshod over tiny Belize’s environment, people, and laws, the Carnival V.P. was sticking to the script.

Giora Israel
?We are guests in your country and we will abide by the law of this country full stop; no ifs, not buts, no conditions. And whatever laws the government puts on, we will abide by them.?

For its troubles, the owner of the cruise port, Belize Cruise Terminal Limited, will receive four U.S. dollars from the government head tax levied on each passenger that uses the new port facility. That tax is currently at seven dollars per passenger. By the time the project is completed in October 2007 there should be over a million cruise tourists visiting Belize annually.

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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