Federation of Cruise Tourism Association of Belize (FECTAB) objected Wednesday to Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Government and Norwegian Cruise Line for the development of the Harvest Caye cruise tourism port in southern Belize.
At a press conference at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City, the Federation’s President, Tom Greenwood, and members, David Almendarez and Yohnny Rosado, vociferously rejected the MOU and the project on grounds that it was not planned to benefit the masses that rely on tourism as a means of income.
Greenwood questioned whether the Minister of Labour, Godwin Hulse, a man who he referred to as an icon heading into office, has any part in the project.
The project, according to Greenwood, is a mistake which he feels could have been corrected if proper consultation was held.
He believes that overnight tourism will suffer because of the project and that this will result in exactly the opposite of what Minister Hulse projected – that unemployment will decrease from 14 to 7%.
Greenwood says that people who have invested in overnight tourism will lose their business and will inevitably have to lay off their workers.
And in response to the project director, Hugh Darley’s comments last week when he suggested that the Garinagu can showcase the Dugu ritual to visitors, Greenwood criticized that idea, saying that “these people are talking about taking sacred ceremonies of a people that are indigenous to the region for thousands of years and turning it into a Disney operation.”
Yohnny Rosado, who has invested heavily in offering tours at the Maya Temples, says that because proper planning did not go into the existing Fort Street Tourism Village project, the locals “look like hustlers, second class, third-class tour guides.”
Almendarez, meanwhile, was critical of the Government for holding a closed press conference on the matter.
That act alone, he said, suggests there is something hidden.
“If you have something that’s clean and very welcoming you don’t close it; you open it because you want everyone to know the good works you’re doing. Your political party will seek election soon; this gives me the reaction that you are just trying to gobble up because you are worried about the next political outcome.”
Greenwood urges those whose livelihood will be affected by the project to gather en masse and stage a demonstration in Belmopan to stop the Government from carrying through with the project.