Norwegian Cruise Lines’ US$50 million proposal to establish a major cruise port on Crawl Caye some eight and a half miles off the Placencia peninsula has been turned down by Cabinet, Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow told reporters at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel on Wednesday morning, June 5.
The Prime Minister did not go into details, but he said Cabinet’s rejection of the proposal was based on recommendations made by the technical people to the Cabinet sub-committee chaired by Minister of Labour, Local Government, Rural Development and NEMO, Senator Hon. Godwin Hulse.
This is by no means a blanket rejection of all cruise tourism developments for the southern part of Belize, Barrow hastened to make clear. He said were NCL to consider a similar development at Riversdale, government might look more favourably on such a proposal.
In fact any other proposed tourism development for the south would be considered on its merits.
As to concerns raised by the Belize Tourism Industry Association that the development of a cruise port in the south might divert other cruise lines from Belize City, Mr. Barrow said that was never an issue.
The government had made it clear at the outset that any cruise port built by the company would be exclusively for that company’s ships only.
The Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize (FECTAB) was one of the last to add its voice to the clamour of objections from conservationists and other tourism professionals, but they were one of the first to applaud government’s rejection of the proposal.
FECTAB President Tom Greenwood congratulated the Prime Minister and the Government of Belize on the momentous decision to reject the proposal.
The letter said: “FECTAB recognizes that Belize needs investments, but investments must come only after careful thought and with respect to the opinions and submissions of the relevant agencies/groups/individuals, public and private, who would be affected by this investment.”
Greenwood also congratulated other ministers of the sub-committee which reviewed the proposal, in particular the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development Hon. Lisel Alamilla, the Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Hon. Santi Castillo, and Minister Godwin Hulse.
Greenwood’s letter indicated that the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize is not entirely happy with the direction cruise tourism is taking Belize.
He cited what he called a “tendering fiasco”… the illegal destruction carried out inside the archaeological site of Nohoch Che’en [Caves Branch], and the dangerous facility built atop the cave’s entrance for the exclusive use of one tour operator representing a cruise line.”
Greenwood also lamented what he described as “the chaotic situation at the Tourism Village, which the Belize Tourism Board has been trying to resolve.
Greenwood urged the Government of Belize to re-visit the agreement signed with the cruise lines with a view to upgrading that agreement.