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Mar 16, 2018

FECTAB Back on the Warpath against GOB

The outspoken folks at the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations had been quiet for some time, but today they turned up the heat on Government, again. The organization wants to put in place an initiative that would allow only local operators to conduct tours at a well-known archeological site. FECTAB says the concept is being undertaken at other sites, but can it happen at Nohoch Che’en?  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports from the Radisson.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

After prolonged silence on matters related to cruise tourism, FECTAB is launching a new offensive in a desperate attempt at claiming its fair share of the service sector pie.  Taking its cue from other stakeholders elsewhere within the industry, the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize has its eyes set on Nohoch Che’en for exclusivity when it comes to tour operations.  The latest effort, according to David Almendarez, is a people-driven initiative aimed at regaining control of the popular archaeological site used for cave-tubing adventures.


David Almendarez

David Almendarez, Executive, FECTAB

“We at FECTAB sih wahn people movement di happen.  Di country di wake up and I wahn be a part of the solution and I have wahn very quick fix to our money problem weh our leaders cannot fix and I am asking my country to support us in the upcoming movements that are going to happen because we want changes happen.  We want the government to lock off certain sites to cruise ships.  We want the government lock off Nohoch Che’en to Carnival direct tours.”


It’s an ambitious undertaking, considering the fact that FECTAB shares somewhat of a mutually antagonistic relationship with the powers that be.  Almendarez’s premise is based on similar arrangements made for tourists visiting the ATM caves, as well as the magnificent Monkey River in South Stann Creek.


David Almendarez

“It is good for our local economy, it is good for the common man, it is good for Belize City.  I am proposing that we only allow hundred percent Belizean tour operators to conduct tours in the Nohoch Ch’en Archaeological Site.  It is not a ridiculous idea, check ATM.  Me, David Almendarez, cannot do a tour in ATM cave, you have to use the prescribed ATM guides from Cayo.  Check Monkey River, me, David Almendarez, cannot do a Monkey River howler monkey tour without the use of a Monkey River tour guide.  This is a call for bringing back money, this, eena Belize.  We know it’s a formula, we created it.”


With the local industry so heavily regulated and monitored by the Ministry of Tourism and the Belize Tourism Board, is the idea of restricting outside tour operators from conducting activities at the location farfetched?  Tom Greenwood, a longtime stakeholder in cruise tourism, was instrumental in forming procedures for tour guiding in Belize.


Tom Greenwood

Tom Greenwood, President, FECTAB

“We actually put in there that only a native Belizean may be a tour guide.  Ditto in Mexico, ditto in Guatemala, ditto in Costa Rica, only three of the countries that actually do it.  We need to reorganize and we need to reorganize against terrible, terrible odds.  That hundred dollar bill folks, that David showed you is no joke.  People will betray people for that and we have seen evidence of that in this country for thirty years.”


Interestingly, FECTAB isn’t prepared to approach government with its proposal.  In fact, it is anticipating that GOB will come knocking at its doors sooner than later.


David Almendarez

“How long will it take us to approach government with this proposal?  We want government to approach us.  I think if the government is truly of the same opinion and of the same objective like us, we believe we’re not being selfish, we’re not being irrational.  If you check the media this week, Donald Trump is doing a thing right now, he’s imposing sanctions and things to protect his steel industry and I am telling my government [that] our tourism industry is on life support.  This could very well be the last year for a lot of tour operators to operate and this is a solution.  Carnival noh wahn stop cohn ya seka no Nohoch Ch’en.  If you take away just Nohoch Ch’en, Carnival noh wahn stop cohn ya.  But if you take away just Nohoch Che’en yoh wahn save I woulda seh eighty percent of the local tour operator who made a living and made a striving doing that.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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