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Sep 27, 2012

Chukka says it does not put tourists at risk with rappelling activity

FECTAB maintains that the platform, while built to international specifications, is dangerous and that there is more than meets the eye.  As the two trash it out, the rappelling tours have been suspended temporarily. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.


Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The Federation of Cruise Tourism Association of Belize (FECTAB) had sent an email to sections of the media regarding the platform and what they allege is a photo of a ‘hidden suspended walkway all across the top of the cave’s entrance.” Tom Greenwood, FECTAB’s president says it’s dangerous.


Tom Greenwood

Tom Greenwood, President, FECTAB

“We are saying that a certain activity one, should not be placed like that on an archeological site; and two, we’ve been trying to show that it is dangerous to another group of people doing something else. And what I need to say here now is that I find it incredible that Chukka has very cunningly concentrated on this platform being built to international standards and totally safe. We never said it wasn’t. Only a brass monkey would do something like that two hundred feet in the year and cause people to get hurt. But what they have cunningly hidden is the fact that there are fifteen to twenty people on a hidden walkway behind the bushes on this ninety degree cliff that have to access the platform. And that places fifteen to twenty people standing on this suspended walkway directly over the cave’s entrance. So my point that there is danger there is brought out by that fact that has constantly not seen the light from the direction of Chukka.”


Chukka denies the pathway is directly above the cave entrance.


Valerie Woods, Country Manager, Chukka

“Another blatant inaccurate statement. Mister Greenwood would like people to believe that one; we are hiding a walkway or a trail, and two; that again it is over the cave entrance. To that, we completely denounce it. It is yet another blatant demonstration of how far one would go with inaccurate statements. As you can see here, I think here he tries to present in this picture that the trail is over the cave entrance. We have a trail that goes right, follows the path of the rock wall and takes you directly to the platform. In addition to that, we also put rails right next to it as you can see. At any one point, coming up from Jaguar Paw property to access the rappelling platform, you are at least twenty-five to thirty feet away from the edge of the cliff at an angle. But in addition to that, in between the trees and many other natural barriers of the forest—if you will—that is there. So there is a rail that borders the trail that is right next to that rock wall area.”


Jose Sanchez

“And the distance is about sixty feet from where they actually land?”


Valerie Woods

Valerie Woods

“Well now you are talking about the rappel. Yes, on the rappel we are looking it is over here that the rappelling is and you would come down here on the area which has nothing to do with the cave tubing that is occurring here and the distance is about approximately sixty feet. It would be completely incompetent of any serious tour operator to build a rappelling platform over an entrance where people are cave tubing.”


Tom Greenwood

“Our cause is just; we feel it is just especially from the point that I’ve been pushing. How can you put a high risk activity directly over the heads of what turns out to be a hundred thousand people per year? I was appalled by the fact that the Ministry of Tourism will say things like we need to push tourism forward with cooperation and consultation. What consultation? There are three events that have taken place back at Nohoch Che’en over a period of time about which we have never been consulted.  FECTAB is composed of dozens of guides—I would probably think over a hundred guides with the inclusion of the GTGA—so many tour operators and various other suppliers and we are the voices that should be consulted. Come talk to us man. Say Tom, we want to do this. Okay, let’s look at it.”


Valerie Woods

“They may not like it. For whatever reason they might not like it Jose. But we are not doing anything wrong, we are not doing anything unsafe and we are not taking advantage or have any advantage by simply coming up with an idea; one incidentally that existed long before Chukka even entered into Belize. The rappel was an activity that was done by the Jaguar Paw Hotel when it exited; which has been in existence prior to Chukka leasing the Jaguar Paw property in January of 2010. That operated as a hotel some fifteen plus years. And for those amount of years, there have been tubing activity and several, well before it was ever determined an archaeological reserve. And at that very location, where our platform is, is where their, Jaguar Paw Hotel’s rappelling activity was. The difference is that we have made it safer by having the guests rappel from a platform and not directly from the rock.”


While FECTAB and Chukka agree to disagree, the tourism product is feeling the burn of the dispute. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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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2 Responses for “Chukka says it does not put tourists at risk with rappelling activity”

  1. Storm says:

    I read comments of other co-conspirators of Greenwood elsewhere, and they sound like criminals and bullies. FECTAB has been encouraging extra-legal action to stop competition and innovation, and they got what they asked for.

    Whoever did it, FECTAB has blood on its hands.

  2. Rod says:

    Go Thomas tell them Jamaicans where they can go yeaaaaaa go greenwood get em

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