By Alexis R. Milan
The Federation of Cruise Tourism Association of Belize (FECTAB) is unhappy with amnesty conditions that the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) have decided to grant to tour operators to give them time to comply with new tourism regulations.
Tour operators call the new regulations unfair. .
FECTAB, during a press conference on Monday, indicated that it had received a letter from NICH and the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) saying that the operators would be given an amnesty period up to December 31, 2014 to be in compliance. According to the letter, the new regulations will take effect on January 1st.
The letter said that NICH and the Belize Tourism Board would be meeting with operators to discuss solutions to the concerns that FECTAB has raised.
Valdemar Andrade, BTB director of cruise tourism, said the BTB has made it clear that new safety regulations are essential for the long-range health of the tourist industry, but is willing to come to the table and negotiate with the operators because they want to ensure that private stakeholders will remain competitive.
FECTAB’s executive along with Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) have called for meaningful dialogue between NICH and FECTAB.
COLA President, Giovanni Brackett, said NICH should have offered a one-year moratorium on the new regulations and should have engaged in consultations with FECTAB to revise the Regulations that are the cause of the Association’s discontent.
FECTAB executive member, Yohnny Rosado, called on the government to facilitate the negotiations between NICH, BTB and the Association.
Rosado also criticized an arrangement made between NICH and Dark Night, a new tour operator which, in FECTAB’s view, gives the new tour operator exclusive rights and allows a better price for their tours.
FECTAB’s President Tom Greenwood also said his association is concerned about a report that the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) a unique cave system just outside of San Ignacio, would be opened for mass cruise tourism.
Greenwood says his Association has seen several cave systems damaged due to littering and other harmful effects caused by opening the caves to accommodate cruise tourism passengers.
Greenwood insisted that this must not be allowed to happen at this unique cave system.