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#394422 - 12/09/10 02:47 PM New Fort George Tourism Zone in Belize City
Marty Offline
... Officially opens


The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) is pleased to announce the newly established tourism zone in the Fort Gorge area of Belize City, now called the "Fort George Tourism Zone” (FGTZ). The new improvements to this area will enhance experiences for both locals and visitors; and overall statistics about Belize's cruise industry. FGTZ officially opened today, Wednesday, December 8.

Over the past decade, the cruise industry has increasingly attracted more and more international travelers to Belize, while also serving as an important contributor to the local economy and employer for Belizeans. To ensure the continued success of this vital tourism sector, the BTB, Belize City Council, and Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture worked together to create a sound plan that will help Belize remain competitive within the global tourism marketplace.

The Fort George Tourism Zone is located in the immediate vicinity of the Fort Street Tourism Village in Belize City. This area is constituted by all of Queen Street (including the swing bridge), bounded on the west by Haulover Creek, and on the east and south by the Caribbean Sea.

Surveys from visitors are saying that they are far from comfortable with the way things were before. "Cruise passengers have consistently rated Belize as the number one destination for tours, so we know that our product is unparalleled and that we have something very good to offer,” stated Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism. “That's consistent. At the same time, though, those same cruise passengers who want to come to Belize City and walk around and see what we have to offer and buy tours from the independents often leave with a very bad perception of Belize and actually we are consistently rated as the worst destination in that regard."

And with this in mind, BTB believes that improvements to the new Fort George Tourism Zone are an important step in helping local businesses more effectively sell their products and services in an equitable and orderly marketplace.

There are lots of changes to come especially in the way business was carried out by taxi operators, food vendors, tour guides, hair braiders and other operators. Operationally it will translate into a complete change from business as usual.

"We're looking at improved traffic flow systems, which will include the One-Way flow of vehicular traffic off North Front Street, will now be in effect every day (Sunday to Sunday) from 6:00 am – 6:00pm.,” stated Lloyd Enriquez, Coordinator, Tourism Zone. “We are also looking at the establishment of the dispatch booths at the various gates next to the FSTV, so that when guests come out, they will interface with a dispatcher."

That means guests will no longer be directly approached and solicited by tour guides, hair braiders and others - that is now the duty of the dispatcher. Once the dispatcher has a very good idea of what tour the guest wants to take, that person who is on the rotation in line will be able to close that sale, will be able to approach and to close that sale and to give more details as to the tour or whatever it is. But all 10, 15, 20 people will not be able to approach, only that person who it is first in line will be able approach and to close the sale.

These improvements are essential in creating a friendly and enjoyable experience for cruise ship passengers and other international tourists, encouraging them to return to our beautiful country again and again.
Ambergris Today

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#394452 - 12/09/10 10:01 PM Re: New Fort George Tourism Zone in Belize City [Re: Marty]
Short Offline
We need to make Ambergris Caye a Tourism Zone!
_________________________
Live and let live

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#394454 - 12/09/10 10:41 PM Re: New Fort George Tourism Zone in Belize City [Re: Short]
SP Daily Offline
The taximen wouldn't allow that!

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#394469 - 12/10/10 08:08 AM Re: New Fort George Tourism Zone in Belize City [Re: Marty]
Short Offline
Well, think a little further than that; not allowing criminals to tourist zones would be a good start. Better (tourism) police presence (at least as much as the country's average) and a lot more lighting would be a second. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to make a sensible list.
_________________________
Live and let live

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#394478 - 12/10/10 02:45 PM Re: New Fort George Tourism Zone in Belize City [Re: Marty]
shuffles Offline
Having been in several port cities in the Caribbean, on cruise ships, I have seen everything from open air - run for your life places to literally chain link fenced in areas with guards patrolling. It is unnerving for a tourist to get off a boat and have locals running over one another to get to them. Then again, in Port Limon, where the "tourist area" is fenced in, there are locals doing business there, and there are guards patrolling all the perimeters. I took one look outside the fence there and decided that I would not go out. I think a combination of some of these ideas would work better than the current method. It's a step in the right direction at least.
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Change your Latitude

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#394577 - 12/11/10 04:01 PM Re: New Fort George Tourism Zone in Belize City [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Zone On Its Own: End Users Say They Lost Money

The Fort George Tourism Zone has concluded its first week - and we didn't have to wait around for an official report card; the cab drivers. Tour operators and hair braiders gave their own today: it is a big-fat "F."

Might sound harsh, but for those who earned a fraction of their average take-home pay this week, there's no arguing with empty pocket syndrome:….

Yoni Rosado, Cavetubing.com
"Did you guys make any money this week?"

Crowd
"No, no money."

Jules Vasquez Reporting
No money and no smiling faces, in fact, it was a room full of serious faces, anxious because in the first week of the BTB's zoning plan, they didn't make what they should have. But the zoning isn't the issue:

Tom Greenwood, President FECTAB
"I remain convince that the zoning idea is an excellent idea because we saw at terminal 4, sex, drugs and all that being offered I mean I personally heard an offer for little boys, if you want."

So Zoning is not the problem, the Fort Street Tourism Village is - they say the village is keeping their visitors inside

Yoni Rosado, Cavetubing.com
"Our guest already book with us for the months or days before, they cannot find us because the inside doors at FSTV have no EXIT and if the doors mark no exit then there are 3 or 2 security guards right in front of the door with guns, now if our guests that are book cannot get out of FSTV how will the people that are trying to see the beautiful city of Belize or meet the taxi guys or the hair braiders, how will they exit, they will have no interest to exit any door."

Tom Greenwood, President FECTAB
"We now see evidence that yes people are now coming ashore but now it is the FSTV that are holding the guests hostage because they are not suppose to tell people that you can't exit here and you can't exit there."

Yoni Rosado, Cavetubing.com
"We are the outsiders of tourism village, open the gates, if you want the zoning to work you have to open those doors and those gates."

Tom Greenwood, President FECTAB
"That tourism village must not hold people hostage, guests want to come outside, let them come outside as they will. The BTB has put up a zoning plan, I see it as an excellent plan, it's working except that as brother Yoni said unfortunately its working for FSTV, so open the gates and let my people go!"

Dramatic, but in this room, to this angry audience, not overplayed:

Tour Operator
"I will tell you what ladies and gentlemen, we need to eat and we don't need any more excuses, we have identify the problem and we will deal with it whether or not BTB wants. At this time we are being reasonable."

Yoni Rosado, Cavetubing.com
"But our minds bug us to know that something is wrong, we are right next to the tourism village, we are seeing the dollar flying in our face and we can't catch it, something is wrong, it's like when you see aquarium, the fish are right next to you but you can't touch the water and you can't get wet and you can't touch the fish, there is a big log between you and that fish, so we are seeing everything going on, we see the vans going full, we are seeing everything but we cannot touch it. This is the last press conference we will have after this we picket BTB, we will picket wherever we have to. This is the last press conference."

Tom Greenwood, President FECTAB
"We need to take this to the next level, the next level I suggest folks is the 2 o' clock meeting at house of culture today and the next level after that if it don't happen, then we will haul out our placards and everything and take that there. And then it can go to various levels."

"FSTV, you got to get your act together boss because guess what, you can't hold back a category 5 hurricane ok."

And those at the center of the storm are the hair braiders who are protesting a major, major downturn in earnings:

Ruth Smith - President Of Hair Braiders
"We are here because we are not making any money. The area that BTB located us is Mirab parking lot, not even Mirab customers were using this parking lot. I have a situation, it was Wednesday, 4 ships, one of my co-workers made BZ$26, and the 62 played the same night in lottery."

Shakira Petillo, Made $26.00 Wednesday
"I made the $26.00, a day like with 4 ships, I would usually go home with US$160.00 in my pocket and I made BZ$26.00 on Wednesday."

Yoni Rosado, Cavetubing.com
"The people need to understand that $26.00 - that's it for the week, that's it. If a vendor only sell $30.00 that's it for the week it's not like you have Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays, Tuesdays, what you make on Wednesdays that's it."

The press conference turned pep rally was supposed to be followed up by a pre-scheduled "week-one post-mortem" meeting this afternoon with the tourism board. The operators had promised to take their fiery demands into that meeting but it was postponed at the last minute. It will now be held early next week before the cruise days.

As for the Fort Street Tourism Village, Director of Operations James Nisbet says nothing has changed with the security provisions - and that the armed security is for Diamonds International. He says guests continue to go outside at their leisure - and that the village management has facilitated the BTB as best it can by placing dispatcher booths inside the village to funnel guests out.

Channel 7


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#394578 - 12/11/10 04:02 PM Re: New Fort George Tourism Zone in Belize City [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

FECTAB addresses the negative effects of the zoning at tourism village

FECTAB has emerged as perhaps the most vociferous organization in the tourism industry taking on hot button issues in the industry. Not one to be silent, the organization today came out in full solidarity with the traders who earn their living at the Fort Street Tourism Village. The hair braiders, taxi drivers and tour guides say they have not been able to make any money since the introduction of zoning in the village on Wednesday. Because of the new measures, they are now placed far away from the reach thousands of cruise visitors. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Since its introduction earlier this week BTB’s Sustainable Tourism Program which includes the zoning of the Fort Street Tourism Village has been met with negative response from tour guides and vendors operating in the area. The new system was put in place to organize what had become a chaotic state of affairs within the village during the high season. While the project was initially lauded as a good plan it is now being heavily criticized by stakeholders within the tourism industry. Today is only the third day of the implementation of several changes in the Fort George area and the Belize Tourism Board has already come under intense scrutiny. Hosting a press conference on the effects of those recent changes was the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize.

Yoni Rosado, Cavetubing.com

yoni rosado

“What we have to understand is that the zoning have been mapped, have been designed not by us. I will ask a question to the vendor did BTB contact you before the zoning? I will ask a question to the hair braiders did BTB contact you for your honest opinion for the zoning? And that is the question that I put to the people of Belize, to the city and to all the people involved in cruise tourism. Belize Tourism Board has met with us one, I believe two times, about the zoning but it’s not for asking us anything. It’s to tell us what’s going to happen.”

And what has happened, according to FECTAB president Tom Greenwood, is that the scheme is only benefiting the companies inside the Fort Street Tourism Village. Vendors who offer business outside the gates of the marketplace are once again shut out.

tom greenwood

Tom Greenwood, President, FECTAB

“The BTB has put up a zoning plan. I see it as an excellent plan. It’s working except that as brother Yoni said unfortunately it’s working for FSTV. So open the gates and let my people go!”

Biblical references aside, those feeling the immediate effect of the new zoning system are the many hair braiders who, without the advantage of advertising or pre-booking, are basically left jobless.

ruth smith

Ruth Smith, President, Hair Braiders Association

“We di ya cause we are not making any money. The area that BTB located us is Mirab parking lot, not even Mirab customers were using his parking lot… And I’ve been to meetings after meetings and it hurts me because these are my co-workers that I work with for like eight to ten years. Some of them have been out here ten years, more than I have been out here. The only weather we don’t go to work is when a hurricane is coming and that’s the time we pray that the hurricane doesn’t come so we can go and work.”

As of Monday hair braider Claire Williams has been losing business because of her new location.

Claire Williams, Hair Braider (File: December 9th, 2010)

The tourists don’t come off the ship saying I’m going to get my hair braided, I’m going to get my toes painted; I have to convince them to get it done and I am not getting that break to convince them. Every time when I try the police tell me I gotta step back.”

Ruth Smith

They always want to put the hair braiders at the back like we are not being recognized. You know, and we will not stand for that, that’s why I’m here today.”

Among those also affected are the taxi drivers who line the exterior of the village. With the new changes in place they are being advised to work closer with each other.

FECTAB Member

“Some of you people need to learn to discipline yourselves. I know that some of you have cops that are friends, that are your friends and would bad mind each other and you guys need to do better than that. You’re all out there for one purpose and please don’t try to undermine the purpose of your presence. You are there to make some money. You are not there to stop another brother from making money. Mek wi laan fi live together.”

The resounding message nonetheless was summarized in a few short sentences.

FECTAB Member

“BTB should have done the appropriate screening before this zoning is being implemented. They should have studied how this will affect all the players negatively. First of all they failed to realize that the zoning will never be effective if tour operators don’t cooperate.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


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#394587 - 12/11/10 04:17 PM Re: New Fort George Tourism Zone in Belize City [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
New Tourism Zone plan not working

Yesterday, Wednesday, the Fort George Tourism Zone opened for business with 4 cruise ships in port. Another three are said to have arrived today.

Ordinarily, that would have meant big business for the hundreds of vendors, taxi operators, tour guides, and other service providers within the Fort Street Tourism Village and outside in the area stretching from City Hall to Memorial Park and the sea. It would have prompted a frenzy of haggling and jousting as competing services sought out willing customers.

But stakeholders we spoke with say that the plan, unveiled to some fanfare on Saturday last at Old Belize to regularize the situation, has not been translated well on the ground, and the result is severe loss of income at the worst possible time – two weeks before Christmas.

Yesterday, members of the Tourist Village Taxi and Tour Guide Association complained to reporters that while some of their members inside the Village area had gotten some business, those operating from what is referred to as “Terminal Four” on North Front Street, previously home to the temporary market and next door to the Brown Sugar Market complex, were getting no business at all, because the dispatchers hired to direct tourists to them were largely being ignored, and worse, the gate was kept closed, barring them from directly soliciting the visitors.

Today, we went to see for ourselves. Around 3:00 this afternoon, nearing the end of an ordinary day by industry standards, activity had significantly dwindled on North Front Street and most service providers were just standing around, waiting.

According to Ruth Smith, president of the Hair Braiders’ Association, a group of 16 women established for as much as a decade in the area, the plan was “not working out at all; they put us in the Mirab parking lot, far away from the tourists. We can’t go up to them, but we are yet to see anyone approach us. Our job is about negotiation, convincing them to get their hair done. How are we to do that if they lock us away?”

Smith says that non-members of the Association and her group have been put in the same area, further hurting their business. Today, she said, she made just US$6; on a day like yesterday, for instance, she estimates net income of “close to $200.”

“We were already sharing out jobs before this implementation. If someone approached me and I already have a job, I give it to the next lady in line. My main concern at the end of the day is seeing to it that I and the ladies I work with go home with something,” Smith said, adding that the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) would have to be responsible for non-members.

A taxi operator who did not identify himself told us that they were only being allowed to pick up and drop off persons who come out to them in the downtown area and at Old Belize. Previously, he said, they would get runs to some of the major tourist sites, where they would hand off to the tour guides already present and be paid for their services. Now, the tour operators get first crack, he said.

Craft vendor Jennifer Garcia complained about the size of the stalls in the parking lot next to the St. Mary’s tennis court, where the vendors are congregated. “They have us locked up in there like pigs, like we are in jail!” she said.

These and similar stories will be ventilated at a press conference to be called by the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize (FECTAB) at the Princess Hotel in Belize City tomorrow morning, Friday, at 10:00.

The Reporter

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#394595 - 12/11/10 04:29 PM Re: New Fort George Tourism Zone in Belize City [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
New rules worry Tourism Village pros

The Belize Tourist Board’s new zoning rules for engaging the tourists went into effect in the Fort Street Tourism Village on Wednesday morning,

Officials from BTB and the Belize City Council saw first hand how the enforcement of the new rules created a wave of confusion among the tour operators, taxi drivers and hair braiders who depend on cruise tourists to eke out a living.

Under the new system, everyone is decked out in a T-shirt showing that he/ she is part of the authorized reception team.

Several tour dispatchers direct the tourists to the waiting tour operators and the hair braiders have a designated area to carry on their business. The system avoids the negative impression which tour operators and hair braiders inadvertently created in the past, by their “bum-rush” approach to the visitors as they walk through the village.

City Councilor Wayne Usher and newly appointed City Administrator Mrs. Candice Burke toured the Tourism Village to see how the changes were shaping up. “Things seem much more orderly now. We don’t see that bum-rush that we used to see . We are partnering with the Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism, and things are going according to plan,” Usher said.

The hair braiders are not entirely happy with the new arrangements. Yvette Petillo, a single mom who braids hair for a living, said: “Hair braiding is all about convincing. You know how many taxis have already left. No hair braiders have left as yet.”

Hair Braiders Association President, Ruth Smith, said she plans to negotiate further because she feels they might not make any money if they accept the BTB’s plans to put the hair braiders inside the Mirab parking lot, where they might not be so readily noticed by the tourists.

Cecil Gill rents motor scooters and said the new rules are not helping his business. For him it’s a bread and butter issue.

“I need to make money to live and survive, I cannot come out here and take home nothing,” Gil said.

President of the Tourist Village Taxi and Transfer Association, John Pollard, said things are slow for his members under the new rules, but they are hanging in there and are willing to work with the BTB.

The Reporter

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#394622 - 12/11/10 11:10 PM Re: New Fort George Tourism Zone in Belize City [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
And they want to replicate this mess in Placencia? No bloody way.
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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