There were murmurs of discord
last week, but predictions are
that come Wednesday the
situation at the Tourism Village
will be chaos, as Belize's largest
cruise tour operator squabbles
with its two largest suppliers of
transportation. The players tried
to sort it out in front of the press this afternoon, to
Patrick Jones, Reporting
They sat side by side at this afternoon's press
conference, but there is no love lost between these
warring factions of the cruise ship industry: the
Novelo's Bus Company, Tour Tran, and Cruise
Tom Greenwood, Pres., Belize Cruise Ship Industry
"This is no longer a matter behind closed doors."
President of the Belize Cruise Ship Industry
Association, Tom Greenwood, set the stage for the
discussion by outlining a slew of problems, including
insufficient guides accompanying tourists that
threaten to disrupt the main cruise season which is
just getting ready to start.
"On Wednesday coming up here we have four large cruise
ships in harbour. All four are represented by Cruise
Solutions, approximately about nine thousand people.
would like to think that somewhere around the region of
least five or six thousand will come ashore to do
or the other."
But the problem, Greenwood fears, is that there will
not be enough busses to take these visitors to their
destinations. Tour Tran, which currently provides
buses to tour operators, only has thirty-five
air-conditioned busses at its disposal. How the
shortfall will be met is not yet known, but the other
company that can provide the busses says its hands
are tied, thanks to the machinations of the biggest
tour operator, Cruise Solutions and its boss, David
David Novelo, C.E.O., Novelo's Bus Company
"Due to the fact that legal proceedings are still
Cruise Solutions, Novelo's cannot legally provide
Solutions with buses, even though we have in excess of
hundred air conditioned busses. There is where the
lies for the whole cruise ship industry and ultimately
Cruise Solutions requires at least eighty busses to
for ships at a time as will be the case again this
week, as it
was the case last week that Cruise Solutions was unable
cater for that amount of busses."
Gegg was absent from this afternoon's emergency
press conference, but his chief of operations Kelvin
Ramnarace, told the room full of industry officials and
media that Cruise Solutions is willing to work with
Novelo's to bridge the gap.
Kelvin Ramnarace, Operations Manager Tour Tran
"This is what I have been instructed to pass on to you.
is after receipt of Mr. Greenwood's invitation to this
conference. He says: Dear Mr Greenwood, I do not feel
a press conference is the appropriate forum for
the issue, which your letter of November seventeenth,
2003, seeks to address. Meetings between the parties
seem more appropriate and I have initiated these. For
record, my company has offered to prepay the Novelo's
the use of additional busses. And this could amount to
thirty-five thousand to fifty thousand dollars per week
incremental cash flows for Novelo's."
But even with the monetary offer, Novelo's is not
budging. Chief Executive Officer of the company,
David Novelo, says money is not the problem.
"The reality is that our conversation with Cruise
David Gegg has been futile. We have met, it's been a
lock in terms of himself still not honouring
we would welcome the intervention of the government
authorities and the powers that may be because its not
a matter of collecting a prepayment. In terms, it's a
of the exclusivity basis and the way the financial
where these acquisitions of these equipment came was
based upon the consideration of that exclusivity basis.
what is at question here is relatively to say is our
is left with different options."
Adam McKewan, General Manager, Tour Trans
"Tour trans employees and investors appreciate that Mr.
David Gegg of Cruise Solutions confirmed this week that
exclusive contract for motor coach transportation
Cruise Solutions and our company Tour Tran will not be
broken for the remaining six years. Tour Tran is one
hundred percent dependent on the contract with Cruise
Solution. This was in fact the reason and the only
that we made an investment in Belize."
McKewan says Cruise Solutions awarded them the
contract to transport cruise passengers knowing fully
that they only had thirty-five busses at their disposal
and that any shortfall is not theirs to fill. Novelo
that as late as Friday afternoon he had meetings with
my Gegg to try to resolve the dispute but to no avail
and the result was this afternoon's appearance
alongside McKewan to put the issue n the court of
public opinion. Ramnarace, without going into
specifics, says he is confident that things will be
worked out and that no tourist will be stranded on
"The people leave here today believing, and certainly
I am leaving, believing that your company is
two-timing everybody in this. You talk out of one side
of your mouth to Mr. Novelo and out of the next side
to the other company."
Well you would probably not have been listening, there
two sides to every story and we have our side. We have
reason why we terminated that contract as well. Both of
are claiming breach of contract and for our own reason
business must go on. And it had proceeded with Tour
"But if thousands of people are left stranded on
Wednesday it's not just your company that will look
bad, it's all Belize."
"Well we are making every plan to make sure that does
Patrick Jones for News 5.
If the situation sounds confusing, don't worry, it is.
related news, B.C.I.A. President Tom Greenwood told
the press that the tourism village has in fact been
and is now owned by a consortium made up of Royal
Caribbean Cruise Lines and duty free jewellery giant,