By Alexis R. Milan
The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) clarified reports from Citizens Organized for Liberty Through Action (COLA), confirming that Belize had indeed lost 14 port calls from Carnival Cruise Line (CCL).
But, he said, the fewer calls represent a change in scheduling and doesn’t necessarily mean a net loss for the tourism industry.
Destination Planning and Cruise Director Valdemar Andrade said COLA’s characterization of the situation as a negative response from Caribbean c
ruise Lines to Belize is a misinterpretation.
Andrade explained that Carnival, the industry’s largest partner which calls on Belize year-round, has simply redeployed two of its ships to other destinations in the region. Those two ships were responsible for 14 calls to Belize. He added that the change is a normal shift in cruise schedules and losing the two ships doesn’t automatically translate to a loss of business for the country.
According to Andrade, the schedules won’t be completed until closer to December. He explained that the impact of losing the calls from the two ships could be neutralized if larger ships bringing more tourists than the two smaller ships would call on Belize. Still, he said, negotiations are ongoing.
Andrade also addressed claims from COLA that CCL was dissatisfied with Belize over the Stake Bank issue, saying that the cruise line has expressed concerns to the BTB in other areas not related to that particular issue. Their concern, COLA said, happens to be the visitor experience in Belize City.
He explained that tours taken “out-district” to do activities such as cave-tubing and zip-lining are major successes, but the limited range of activities in the City, coupled with constant bombardment upon tourists when leavig the tourist compound are areas of concern that need to be addressed.
The BTB, he said, has already started implementing strategies and policies aimed at addressing these problems and increasing the visitor experience in Belize City.