MSc student: Biodiversity Conservation & Sustainable Development: UB/UWI
Placencia/Seine Bight Village
20 June 2013
Hon. Dean O. Barrow
Government of Belize
Dear Hon. Barrow,
I was thrilled to learn you and your colleagues rightly rejected the NCL proposal at Crawl Caye, but equally dismayed to find out that Harvest Caye, just two miles south of Placencia, is being considered by NCL.
On June 3rd I wrote to you and your colleagues as a coral biologist and MSc student; today I write to you as a long-standing member of the Placencia Tour Guide Association (PTGA, since 1997), licensed tour guide, PADI SCUBA Instructor and registered voter.
Last night (June 19, 2013), a general PTGA meeting was held with 44 attendees, including a few invited, non-PTGA members namely, Stewart Krohn, Chair of BTIA, Placencia Chapter, and newly sworn-in Placencia Village Chairperson, Ms. Ilsa Villanueva. The PTGA committee clarified that the previous support letter sent to your administration was from the newly formed Placencia Tourism Cooperative, chaired by Mr. Brian Young, Sr., who was absent from last night’s meeting, not from PTGA. An official vote was held last night, with the vast majority of the members present (~three exceptions), voting to reject any NCL proposal at Harvest Caye.
Some of the comments from PTGA members, I wanted to share from the meeting included, “Harvest Caye is crucial manatee feeding/mating habitat that would be destroyed from dredging;” “our overnight tourism would dry up if cruise ships of this size were allowed to come;” “we won’t even get any construction jobs;” and “what would we do with 4,000 passengers at our sites?”
The ultimate decision factor was when PTGA President Warren Garbutt informed us that NCL was unwilling to sign any contract with either the Placencia Tourism Cooperative or PTGA, stating they will go with the most competitive bids, which I understood to mean: zero jobs are guaranteed from NCL to Placencia Tour Guides.