Cruise and overnight tourism can coexist, Senator Godwin Hulse, the Minister of Local Government and Labour, said Wednesday.
His comments were to dispel the growing fears of tourism stakeholders that the new Norwegian Cruise Line project would choke out the southern Belize’s thriving overnight tourism.
Hulse said: “I have no idea why cruise and over night [tourism] can’t exist.
“I don’t see any reason why foreigners coming into Belize to visit our beautiful country and leave money can’t coexist.
Director of Tourism Laura Esquivel Frampton shared Hulse’s views, saying that overnight tourism “has grown exponentially over the last year” by 10%.
This year already, she said, the increase is by 9%.
Job creation and employment, which is also one of the Government’s sensitive areas, is expected to improve, if even by a slight margin as a result of the project.
Senator Hulse said: “The man who doesn’t have a job is really looking for one, and we are committed to helping him find one.
“That is the fundamental principle behind these kinds of investments…when people visit your country, one thing is for sure, they leave some money.
“You won’t give them anything [for] free. When they leave the money, hopefully, and the project is structured that the money is left in the hands of Belizeans.
“There is no way that we should have all these wonderful things in the south and the people in the south live in such abject poverty and I make absolutely no apology for trying to fix that.”
On the issue of whether Harvest Caye will negatively affect the existing Fort Point Tourism Project, Minister Hulse explained that “any scheduled visits in the north at the existing [port], those shall not be diverted. It’s as simple as that. So whatever was scheduled there we’ll maintain. We won’t transfer them. So all this fear that whatever was happening in Belize City will stop is not true.”
The Project Director, Hugh Darley assured that the investors will assume responsibility for its own necessities and waste management. “We’re going to generate our own power. We’re also going to have our own well. We’re going to develop our own water system and we’re going to trade our own sanitary sewer on the island.
“All of the trash goes back — all of our cans go back on the ship.
“We’re working with the glass company; we’re probably going to chip and use our own glass and do a glass art as a demonstration on the island. Any of the wet garbage is the only thing that goes off the island and that’s anywhere between 50 and 150 gallons of what we call wet garbage…things like banana peels, orange peels and things that you don’t insinuate and then all of that goes back on the ship. So, no hard garbage or no grey garbage will be left on the island at all.”
Some 30 communities in the south are expected to benefit directly from the Harvest Caye project, which upon completion will be an investment of US$50 million.