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Dec 9, 2010

Chaos at the Tourism Village

It was more of the same on Day Two of the Sustainable Tourism Program which involves the controversial zoning of the Fort Street Tourism Village. Thousands visitors disembarked the four cruise lines, but those who ply their trade to put bread on their table, were not happy campers. Under the new rules they must wait on the outside. It is peak season and with no money in their pockets, there was chaos and confusion. News Five’s Marion Ali was at the Village today and has this report.

Marion Ali, Reporting

It was back to the grind for those who rely on cruise ship visitors at the Fort Point Tourism Village as they returned to the location to earn their keep.  Those who we spoke with at gate four on Wednesday told us that the newly introduced Sustainable Tourism Programme was not working for them because they had not made any money.  Today, when we returned we found that some tour guides, taxi drivers and hair braiders were still not making any money by the new system.

Claire Williams, Hair braider, Fort Street Tourism Village

“Usually deh time yah out yah peel everybody done get wah job. And right now Christmas deh close and everybody di try fi deh family.”

Marion Ali

“They say that it is a rotation basis. Fu unu turn noh come yet?”

claire williams

Claire Williams

“They noh give we no rotation, the braiders noh get no rotation. We have to stay behind the barrier and we have to deal with the tourists from over there. As you can see the dispatcher noh talk nothing bout no braids no nothing.”

Marion Ali

“Maybe the tourists deh noh want their hair done today.”

Claire Williams

“This is what I am saying. The tourists don’t come off the ship saying I’m going to get my hair braided, I’m going to get my toes painted; I have to convince them  to get it done and I am not getting that break to convince them. Everytime when I try the police tell me I gotta step back.”

On Wednesday we spoke with this tour guide, Cecil Gill, and he told us that he made no money because he did not get the opportunity to approach the tourists.  Today he said it was more of the same.

Cecil Gill, Tour Guide

cecil gill

“It’s very difficult. Nothing change, just pure confusion.”

Marion Ali

“It’s a rotation according to the people who plan this, it’s a rotation system.”

Cecil Gill

“I noh see it working. I noh get no rotation. I have to di walk up and down to get mines.”

Marion Ali

“Did you make money yesterday?”

Cecil Gill

“No not a penny and today, I still noh mek none yet. So as you can see pure confusion.”

Gill said he is willing to give the planners more time to iron out the kinks in the new system but while they do, he and others in the industry are not taking home any money.  The new system, meanwhile, also includes a zoning of the tourism area.

Wayne Usher, City Councilor

“The zone itself if you’ll start from the Swing Bridge. You go down Queen Street, you go straight down and then you make a left by where the U.S Embassy was then you go around the Central Bank around Marine Parade, come around the Lighthouse pass the tourism Village and back to the Bridge foot. That’s the zone that is the tourism zone.”

But people who live or have businesses in the zone called a meeting last night to discuss their own personal issues that the new zoning has brought on.  While he supports the project, Jeremy Spooner of Spooner’s Photo Lab on North Front Street, says he has his own concerns.

Jeremy Spooner, Businessman

jeremy spooner

“There were some concerns of some of the residents about parking issues. My concerns were about parking issues, toilets in the area because a lot of time tourist come and ask to use our toilets. Also, the direction of the traffic because right now it is very convenient for me—to come around from Marine Parade or by St. Mary’s Church to get here. If they change it, I would have to go over the Swing Bridge and come here or go down North Front Street and Holy Redeemer is a pain in the morning with all the kids going to school—there is always traffic jams. I notice that when they approached the area, they are approaching it as a tourist destination and I think they have forgotten of the residences and the businesses that are here.  I just reminded them that although I welcome the idea, the upliftment.”

The project, according to City Councilor responsible for Tourism, Wayne Usher, is an upliftment to the old capital and the industry.

Wayne Usher

“There’s going to be a managing committee managing that zone to see that things are done right and according to plan. The zone itself will constitute an area where there’s commercial activity of course, the tourism, the entertainment, the hotels, they are tight in there. So all of this will encompass it. And then there is the craft market, the renovations at the Memorial Park, the upliftment. All of that will be included and people will benefit even the heritage side of it. If you have colonial houses in that area, you can on your own, with your private home, you will be able to open that down the stretch.”

Marion Ali

“But tourists won’t be confined to that area because there will be tourist who might want to go to Albert Street, go and eat at Dits?”

Wayne Usher

wayne usher

“That will by no way confine them. They are not confined to the zone. The zone is to upgrade and uplift that immediate area where the cruise stops.”

Usher said that the project will be expanded to include other areas as time progresses.  Meanwhile the infrastructural adjustments and fine-tuning along the tourism zone will get underway by March of 2011. Marion Ali for News Five.

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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4 Responses for “Chaos at the Tourism Village”

  1. Red Bear says:

    I’m speaking as a frequent visitor to Belize. This program restricts the freedom of the tourist to choose where to spend his money, and thus it makes Belize a less attractive place to visit.

    I think the program is ridiculous. I’ve never visited another democratic country where tourists are abused/restricted in this way. Maybe in dictatorships, but they are not exactly tourist destinations.

    A terrible move. Belize’s national economy will definitely suffer.

    I don’t understand why every GOB is so hell-bent on supporting monopolies, instead of letting people compete on a level playing field with minimal regulation.

  2. Say what? says:

    Channel 5, I’m glad that Mr. Usher did not get the Memo about the granting of interviews to you guys. On a more serious note, I’ve been to the tourist village and I see the way these girls approach tourists. It’s like they won’t take no for an answer. Perhaps, they should change their tactic a little so as to not come of as forceful, or aggressive. Some people don’t like to be approached in that way by strangers.

  3. Earl Grey says:

    SOMETHING DOES NEED TO BE DONE…….all parties should sit and come to an agreement.

    or we will always get the short end of the stick.

    or something like that.

  4. jj says:

    the only one’s that will be making money is the white man who really owns the businesses, and the politicians they have in there pocket.. the belizean people will get the short end of the stick.. again the rich will get richer and the poor poorer. belize the white man has found that belize is a beautiful place and there is money to be made so he has come with his money and buy over persons to push out the small belizean business men and make all the money for them self. first ever one was making money. now only a small group of business are makeing all the money and they come together to buy over our politicians so that they can have there way. its a shame that our politicians make these people come and make our belizeans suffer. the head of government is KKKKing us instead of fight for the weak the small belizeans business men and women. take over the business and literally locking out the belize off there own land. its not the first time they taken the land away from the natives. they are called parasites

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