BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 19, 2018– People’s United Party (PUP) mayoral candidate, Bernard Wagner called a press conference this afternoon to address the new regulations that are being introduced at the Fort Street Tourism Village (FSTV) after a number of workers in the tourism industry called KREM’s Wake Up Belize Morning Vibes (WUB) talk show this morning.
Wagner explained that plans are afoot by the UDP Belize City Council to move tour guides from the FSTV, after the municipal elections, and relocate them to the Marion Jones Stadium, which will serve as a drop-off point for cruise tourists.
“That will be creating a middleman scenario,” Wagner emphasized, “because when the tourists come out of the gate, they would meet various tour operators and then those tour operators would then link with the tour guides, and the small revenues that these people are getting would then dwindle further.”
Wagner said that at least 150 to 200 tour guides and their families would be impacted by this move. “And we as the PUP City Council want to make sure that we are always looking out for the best interest of our people, because we are all about the people, the people come first,” Wagner added.
“While you want to maintain efficiency at the tourism village, you still want to make sure that our people are eating and eating well”, Wagner said.
Wagner was asked to explain how he would help the tour guides to oppose this planned relocation if he were to be elected.
“While we want to assure that efficiency is maintained at the entrance of the tourist village, behind our heads we are always about the people. So we have to look at the situation and work out a plan where at least our tour guides are not impacted adversely. We don’t want our tour guides to be located at the Marion Jones Stadium,” Wagner said.
Wagner was asked if his opposition to the initiative is an attempt to win over the votes of the tour guides.
“This is politics season. We take our business very seriously and we are always focusing on our people getting a piece of this pie. The tour operators are already getting their share of the pie, so why now are you going to take away the small amount that is left out there for our people and put them in an adverse position. And even if people should leave here and say it’s politics, well, it’s good politics,” Wagner remarked.
“With the opening of Harvest Caye in the south, that has impacted the FSTV as less tourists are docking in Belize City, while the Stake Bank Project is on its way; right now all we have in Belize City is the FSTV, that’s all these guys have, so we have to nurture it, we have to fight for these guys”, Wagner pointed out.
7News’ Jules Vasquez asked Wagner if he felt that the massive turnout at the PUP convention has helped him and his team on the campaign trail.
“There is an upbeat, a surge, people want this change. They are calling for the change and they are telling us on the campaign trail that change is coming. The convention really reinforced that and that people see us as a viable option and they want this change in the city. They want new life to be pumped into the city and that is what the PUP slate is bringing to the city,” Wagner replied.
The UDP has deployed Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber in the Lake Independence area, and Wagner was asked if he feels that Faber would be a factor in that area.
Wagner replied that Faber is a non-entity in Lake Independence. “His showing up there is like next to nothing and while he is concentrating in Lake I, he might be losing ground in his own division. We have been able to close the gaps in Collet. We are solid in Port Loyola area. We are strong in Lake I and we believe that we would be able to do better in Pickstock and we hold our own in Queen’s Square and the other divisions,” he said.