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#213315 - 08/03/06 04:37 AM Report says cruise tourism brings few benefits
Marty Offline
Report says cruise tourism brings few benefits

The traditional stalwarts of Belize's overnight tourism industry for many years looked askance at their more recently endowed colleagues catering to cruise ships, saying that cruising cheapened what should be a high end destination and in any case left Belize with little more than the crumbs from the megaships' table. Today a new report commissioned by the Belize Tourism Board seems to confirm that analysis. Alyssa Noble reports.

Martha Honey, Director, C.E.S.D. Washington
“Because it is going down, and because there had been plans in place by the private sector, by the government and by the cruise industry. For instance, the new Carnival pier and so on. There’s going to have to be adjustments to some of those plans. And this may cause some hardships to people who have invested money in what they thought would be an expanding industry.”

Alyssa Noble, Reporting
This was the overall sentiment of the cruise impact study commissioned by the Belize Tourism Board in partnership with the Protected Areas Conservation Trust, who today hosted a forum to discuss the report’s key findings. According to Martha Honey, Director of the Centre of Ecotourism and Sustainable Development, the results of the study so far indicate that cruise tourism isn’t as sustainable as some people may have thought.

Martha Honey
“Broadly, what we are trying to look at is the comparison of cruise tourism, stay over tourism and also some of the specific impact of cruise tourism. I think some of our findings, it’s obviously some positive some negative. In terms of the positive, more passengers get of ships here, than in most other ports. They go on tours that are very representative of what we feel are the best Belize has to offer in terms of cultural and environmental tours. The tourists enjoy what they do in Belize; they enjoy their time here. The negative side: the head tax here per passenger that is paid by the cruise company is very, very low. It’s lower than the region, seven dollars U.S. and also four of those dollars go back to the Tourism Village, which is owned by Royal Caribbean and another private company. So, in a sense, it’s a subsidy back to the cruise lines and our view is that this is public funds and should be used for public projects, the port, the marine parks, etc. and also the infrastructure projects. The other thing is spending tends to be very low in Belize. Our calculations were that forty-five dollars per cruise passenger goes back into the local economy. The stay over spend about ninety-six dollars a day so about twice as much is spent by stay overs and stay overs stay on average six point eight days. So overall, stay overs are putting fourteen times more into the local economy than cruise passengers are.”

But while the B.T.B. admits that there are difficulties, Anthony Mahler, Product Development Director for the Board says it’s not all that bad and that they are already taking steps to remedy some problem areas.

Anthony Mahler, Product Development Director, B.T.B.
“It’s not a doom and gloom report. I think its feasible suggestions that are made within the document. It’s still a draft; we are working on it to improve the document. At the end of the day we want to present the best picture possible. You talked about the numbers of people coming to Belize, yes we’ve seen a decline over the last year, and we expect to see another decline at the end of this year. The peak was at eight hundred fifty thousand at 2004, and we are looking at six hundred fifty thousand or six hundred forty thousand at the end of this year. From my discussions with the cruise lines and their executives, there are a couple issues that we need to address. Belize being one of the tendering ports on the itineraries and that’s a problem. We have a five mile tendering process, and so it’s costly with the increase in the fuel prices. And the other thing is the appearance of down town Belize City and outside of the tourist village. We are working right now with the Belize City Council in trying to improve this. This evening I have a meeting with them and some architects to review some plans just to improve the quality of the experience here in Belize City.”

The report is expected to be finalized and submitted in a couple months, at which time the B.T.B. and PACT can either choose to adopt or reject the recommendations.

Reporting for News Five, I am Alyssa Noble.

No doubt, the report will kindle a new round of rancor between the proponents of both types of tourism.

http://new.channel5belize.com/archive_detail_story.php?story_id=16752

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#213316 - 08/04/06 02:06 AM Re: Report says cruise tourism brings few benefits
Marty Offline
FINDINGS ON CRUISE SHIP TOURISM REVEALED
August 03, 2006

Cruise tourism arrivals in Belize have been on a decrease for the past several months. Love News spoke with the Belize Tourism Board’s Product Development Officer, Anthony Mahler, to find out what is causing the significant fall in the number of cruise visitors.

Anthony Mahler: Belize Tourism Board’s Product Development Officer

“We’ve seen consecutive declines for all the months for 2006 with accumulative decrease of .2 percent.”

Marion Ali, Love FM Reporter

“What would you say attributes to this sharp decrease considering when just a couple of years ago we were reporting record breaking arrivals.”

Anthony Mahler: Belize Tourism Board’s Product Development Officer

“I must say that when we were recording record number of arrivals every possible thing that could be in place for us to do so, fell in place, the situation was just perfect we just had 911, Cruise lines pulled out a lot of their vessels out of the Mediterranean, that part of the world and put them closer to their home ports in Houston, Miami, New Orleans and so the Caribbean which is safe destination for them was the primary destination at that time. We also had several huge ships being built so there was over capacity in the industry, they had to deploy and find new destinations, at that time Belize was a new destination and still is relatively new in the business but there are other things that have occurred over the last year, year and a half that have caused us to decrease in numbers. One elation which was a big ship for Carnival was pulled to be put in New Orleans for housing for people and is still the case. That ship has been dry docked now and is not in the water and if you look at it the number that would provide a year round visitation of over a hundred thousand and plus people for Belize so that was a big blow. Also I have been talking to some of the Cruise executives at some meetings and the primary concern right now is the appearance of Belize City and so we’re trying to work right now with this present city council in addressing some of the issues that they’ve raised that we see are concerns.”

Marion Ali: Love FM Reporter

“Belize City is the same Belize City as of two years ago when Cruise Tourism arrivals was up.”

Anthony Mahler: Belize Tourism Board’s Product Development Officer

“And two years ago or four years ago it was still an issue but after five years and no major improvements other than the marine parade then we can’t go back and say plans are in the making and nothing has been done. We’re trying to work with this present city council to get some projects underway so hopefully the aesthetics of Belize City can be improved. One more issue and it is a critical one is the tendering. Belize is a tendering port as far as I know one of the longest tendering ports in the world, five miles, and with the increasing fuel costs, prices have to be increased and so that is a major issue especially with the larger ships coming into Belize. There are thousands of people lined up on the decks waiting to be disembarked to come on their tours to experience Belize City and this is a long wait for them to do so and so that is a major problem for us.”

We asked Mahler what factors are being looked at to improve the current situation.

Anthony Mahler: Belize Tourism Board’s Product Development Officer

“Some people may say it’s a blessing in disguise. We have decrease in numbers so we can prepare better for the amount of people coming in rather than a million people but I just had a meeting with the Belize City Council last night and we’ve agreed in principle to develop a Craft market and an Entertainment area for cruise passengers and that will be housed at the Memorial Park and construction, I should get permission from them today, written permission. Works should start pretty soon with regards to that project. That’s one. That’s going to clean up outside of The Village and all the harassment that people experience coming out of the Fort Street Tourism Village. I just again had another meeting with the Commissioner of Police and the Head of the Tourism Police Unit and we’ve provided hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, vehicles, cycles, communication equipment. We’re also looking at a special program of monitoring and so we’re working on that. I could say that the amount of crimes against tourists in Belize City for the amount of people coming in isn’t very high.”

Marion Ali: Love FM Reporter

“Are we doing enough? Are we looking ahead to catering for the wants, the needs of the tourist coming to Belize or even tourists looking to the Caribbean for a possible destination? Is Belize doing enough”?

Anthony Mahler: Belize Tourism Board’s Product Development Officer

“We can always do more but with limited resources you have to work with what you have. I think we have a good set of people within public and private sector associations who understand what the industry needs and understand where the industry needs to go and so it’s just putting our thoughts together and we’ve been doing that, working together to get the job done. We’ve put in several programs with regards to the smaller resorts that have had a problem with their occupancy rate. Last year and the year before we started what we call the Toucan Trail. That has been working well for many of the smaller resorts. They’ve seen an increase in occupancy and they’ve seen increase in the revenues that they generate on a yearly basis, that’s just one but there are also infrastructural programs that we’ve put in place all over the country. We’ve supported with signage, with docks or villages and communities to offload people and that sort of thing so it’s not just lip service. We have tangible results on the ground and we’ll be present that in our industry presentation sometime later this year.”

B-T-B’s Product Development Officer, Anthony Mahler.

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#213317 - 08/04/06 02:59 AM Re: Report says cruise tourism brings few benefits
Chris Offline
And cruise ship tourism has REALLY hurt Ambergris Caye. Taxes from our island go to Central Government in the millions each year. Almost none make it back for badly needed basic infrastructure projects such as proper roads, a new primary school, badly needed repair of the old primary school...luxuries like that.

In the meantime there are some lovely new roads on the mainland that cater to almost no traffic except a few cruise ship tour buses. Yup, Ambergris Caye paid for that.

Of course "private enterprises" related to cruise ship tourism in Belize are almost all owned by a few favoured government hacks.

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#213318 - 08/14/06 11:53 PM Re: Report says cruise tourism brings few benefits
Marty Offline
CRUISE TOURISM ON THE DECLINE


Aug 14, 2006


Cruise tourism is on the decline in Belize. This is the
result of
several
factors, according to Product Development Manager at the
Belize Tourism
Board, Anthony Mahler. These factors include an over
saturation of
cruise
ships being built in the region, tour destinations losing
their appeal,
among others. Mahler agrees that the low number of cruise
tourist
arrivals
has affected the livelihood of Belizeans who rely on that
sector of
tourism.

Anthony Mahler: Product Development Manager at the Belize
Tourism Board

"I agree it will have some level of impact on the business
they do but
the
numbers are still at the end of this year we're looking at
650,000
people,
which is still strong although we have decreases. For 2007
with all the
license we have right now or application for licenses, we're
looking at
the
same level as 2006, which would be 600 to 650,000 people. I
think we're
going to be on par with what we end up doing this year."

However Mahler says while cruise tourism is not doing as
well as it was
two
years ago, overnight tourism has actually seen an
improvement. Anthony
Mahler: Product Development Manager at the Belize Tourism
Board Mahler
projects that with new improvements in Belize tourism will
improve in
the
future.

Anthony Mahler: Product Development Manager at the Belize
Tourism Board

"For over night tourism or stay over as we call it, we're
doing well. I
think our growth rate is good enough. We're looking to May a
4.7%
increase
almost a 5% increase through the airports and the main
border we
collect
date from.

Marion Ali: Love FM

"What's the projection as far as you foresees cruise tourism
arrivals
and
tourism on a whole begin to boom again?"

Anthony Mahler: Product Development Manager at the Belize
Tourism Board

"Well from my discussions with the cruise executives and
cruise lines
over
the last few months I don't foresee and major increase until
late 2008
-2009 because there are a lot of ships being built and there
is going
to be
an over capacity again within the nursery."

Marion Ali: Love FM

"Are we marketing Belize as much as other Caribbean
countries are
doing?"

Anthony Mahler: Product Development Manager at the Belize
Tourism Board

"Well compared to Jamaica, you'd say no, because we don't
have the
budget
to do so. But I can tell you, with the budget that we have
and the
resources that we have, we've been effective in increasing;
I think we
were
one of the few counties in the Caribbean that has seen a
constant
increase
since 1998 and that is with 9/11 which was a brutal year for
tourism.
We
have an increase in overnight with a decrease in cruise and
you can't
just
look at the industry from a cruise perspective."

Mahler projects that with new improvements in Belize tourism
will
improve
in the future.

Anthony Mahler: Product Development Manager at the Belize
Tourism
Board.

"With the expansion of the airport, we've been in discussion
with some
international airlines especially out of Europe already and
so work is
underway. One charter company is set to come in later this
year, which
would be additional airline capacity for Belize. We've also
been in
consultation with some resorts developers with international
brand
recognition and so if these projects and plans work out for
us, we
should
see a major increase in over night tourism, which is our
main focus. We
at
the Belize Tourism Board hardly market towards cruise
passengers, its
primarily private sector driven. I must say that overall the
industry
is
still doing well. We have to sort out the issues we have
here in Belize
with regards to cruise as long as the Carnival port is put
in place and
is
constructed from what I know of the final date is for
construction is
the
end of 2007. We'll remove that tendering process and so, I
believe
strongly
we can see impressive growth as well."

Anthony Mahler, Product Development Manager at the Belize
Tourism
Board.

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#213319 - 08/15/06 02:24 PM Re: Report says cruise tourism brings few benefits
JZB Offline
I hope cruiseship arrivals keep declining! They have a more negative impact on Belize than positive. The country doesn't see much financial benefits compared to the money the tourist village is raking in, they trample our reefs and rainforests, make tours undesirable for our overnight guests who are actually spending money in the country, and for as many cruiseship passengers going on tours and seeing the natural beauty of the country, just as many are wandering around Belize City saying "What a craphole, why would anyone want to come vacation here?!"
Just my opinion.

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