By Alexis R. Milan
Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), along with the Federation of Cruise Tourism Association of Belize (FECTAB), held a demonstration on Fort Street Wednesday morning to protest the Tourism Village’s exclusive contract and to push for the Stake Bank project to be completed.
COLA President Geovannie Brackett called on the government to intervene in the cruise tourism industry in the same way the government stepped in to nationalize the utilities.
According to Brackett, the owners of the Fort Street Tourism Village, namely Royal Caribbean and Diamonds International are holding the industry hostage with their exclusive contract, which is valid until 2027.
“The Prime Minister has shown he can be a superman when he wants to and what the cruise tourism industry needs is for the Prime Minister to be superman again and rescue the industry,” Brackett said.
Brackett said they have also received word that in the next couple of years cruiselines will be bringing Oasis class ships which will be too large for slow-moving tenders . These bigger cruise ships need to have a docking port such as the one being constructed at Harvest Caye down south.
Brackett said this dilemma highlights the need for a cruise docking port such as Stake Bank in the Belize district.
Without the cruise port, all ships will be diverted down south to the one available port and the economic results would be disastrous for tour operators in the Belize district,
“The industry is too vital to the economy of Belize to say ‘Let’s just watch those guys battle it out in court.’”
At its peak the demonstration had about 140 protesters chanting “Push the Port” at passing tour buses and holding up signs which, some tourists found interesting. They took pictures and made recordings.