Letters — 13 September 2013 — by Joseph Alvarez

Dear Editor,

After listening to and observing all the discussion about the soon to come Harvest Caye investment project, I would also like to make a contribution as a stakeholder myself in the tourism industry. There are a couple major issues I would like to expound upon, which from my vantage point haven’t been totally examined.

It appears as if though there is no national cruise tourism policy in Belize. Allowing N.C.L. to build a destination on Harvest Caye is ridiculous since Belize is one of the leading destinations in the Western Caribbean. The government seems to be wearing blinders and could only see the political mileage they could garner from this project.

There is already a cruise ship terminal in Belize City and if we plan to take the same approach to accommodate the privileged few then we’re heading up that proverbial creek without a paddle.

We are fully aware of the situation and conditions that exist outside the Tourism Village and what transpires there on a daily basis. Hard working independent Belizeans who go out every single day, rain or shine, to try and make a living, are being pushed aside.

Even the FECTAB representatives who pride themselves to be the voice of the voiceless in the tourism industry have to wait on the outside and hope that their people are allowed to come outside the gates for their tours. This is the so-called cruise tourism policy that is now in place in Belize.
Is this the blueprint for the way ahead for our people in the South? I’m bothered by the thought. We must realize that these ships are private mega corporations and their bottom line is profit. After sealing the deal with the Government, who could tell them what to do on their private island? N.C.L. has already mentioned that they will only be operating on their island for approximately 150 days out of the year. Will it be abandoned for the remainder of the year? Now, that’s wishful thinking.

It is deceitful to give the impression that only N.C.L. will have access to Harvest Caye. Presently in Belize City it is Royal Caribbean along with Diamond International that owns the Fort Street Tourism Village but, over 50% of all the cruise lines that dock here are Carnival.

Actually, a closer look at the cruise ship schedule reveals that only Carnival Cruise Line docks here in Belize City during the slow season.

Let’s not be naïve – these companies are looking to create a dream destination in the Western Caribbean. Harvest Caye won’t be short of anything: there won’t be any reason for their guests to leave the caye. Even our spiritual ritual, the Dugu, they are attempting to take on the caye. The cruise lines have had enough of the chaos and the terrible experience that their guests have to endure walking outside the gates of the Tourist Village in Belize City and also they want to eliminate the tendering boats.

The disadvantages outweigh the advantages in this project. Entrepreneurship, meaningful employment and empowerment of the people are out the door. This will make us third and fourth class citizens in our own country.

Happy birthday, Belize.

Joseph Alvarez

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