An official release from the Government Press Office this week states that the Government of Belize remains open to the idea of developing the Port of Belize as a cruiseship terminal, but sources close to the Feinstein Group say the Prime Minister has already given the green light to Ports Investment Limited, an Ashcroft company, to develop the port as a cruiseship port.
The release states that the Belize City port, condemned by an earlier study as unsuitable for cruise ship docking, has now been shown by “numerous studies which have been done over the past two decades” to be a viable facility.
The Port of Belize, now in receivership over substantial debt charges against its former owner, Mr. Luke Espat, already functions as a goods port for Belize City. The idea now is to expand it to enable it to accommodate cruiseship passengers.
This would put the Ashcroft plan in direct conflict with the Feinstein plan, which is for a project to build a new cruiseship port in the deep waters off Stake Bank and link it to the mainland by an elevated causeway connecting two islands at Gallows Point and beyond, as part of a larger scheme involving offshore tourist resorts and shops and real estate development.
The Feinstein plan has been dogged from the start by a legal dispute arising from a claim by Fort Street Tourism Village Limited that it has an exclusive option to manage cruiseship tourists who come to Belize City. Under this arrangement, Belize Tourism Village shares the revenue which the Government of Belize collects as a head tax and guarantees that FSTV will have exclusive control over cruise tourism for the Belize District area.
The claim by FSTV for the exclusive right to manage Belize-bound cruiseship passengers has been reviewed by the Supreme Court and the court has ruled that this arrangement, authorized by former Prime Minister Said Musa is illegal and cannot stand.
This ruling is enough to get the Government of Belize off the hook, but not the Feinstein Group, which as the developers and sellers of the Tourist Village complex also agreed to give FSTV exclusive rights to manage cruiseship tourists.
Mr. Michael Feinstein has indicated that he may have to withdraw his Stake Bank project if the Government of Belize were to entertain an Ashcroft proposal for Port of Belize, and the Government of Belize has replied that it cannot grant an exclusive license to the
Feinstein Group for its Stake Bank development.
It seems almost certain that Ports Investment Limited will now proceed with plans to expand the Port of Belize to make it a cruiseship port,and Mr. Michael Feinsten will be left out in the cold.
This is a great pity, since the Feinstein Group has already done a great deal of work and endured great expense in advancing its tourism goals for Belize City.