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#396375 - 01/05/11 03:35 PM Foreign catamarans threaten to wipe out locals
Marty Offline

Foreign catamarans threaten to wipe out locals in cruise tourism

There’s a crisis looming for small boat operators in cruise tourism. We can confirm tonight that an exclusive contract to a foreign owned company can wipe out local tenders who ferry visitors to and from Norwegian, Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise ships. That’s because, as we told you on Monday night, the three cruise lines are negotiating an agreement with a Hawaii outfit for direct tendering. It means that the locals, who invariably cannot compete with the well established US Company, will be out of business. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the latest on this story.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The possibility of consolidating existing tenders that service different cruise lines visiting the Jewel weekly has raised the ire of a number of boat owners who operate in that particular business. On Monday News Five broke the story of two catamarans which have entered the country through the Port of Belize at Big Creek to be used for the ferrying of passengers to and from cruise ships moored off the coast of Belize City. It is our understanding that Pride of America, the owner of the vessels, is seeking an exclusive contract to do business directly with the cruise lines.

Following a recent meeting of Carnival reps with EuroCaribe Shipping Services in Miami tender owners are now being told that their crafts must have a seating capacity of a hundred and fifty passengers to secure jobs transporting tourists.

jason marin

Jason Marin, Tender Owner

“Carnival are saying that the local tenders that are locally made and built here are not safe anymore and that they are not going to use any tender that don’t have a capacity of a hundred and fifty passengers which automatically boxes out all the small men just to benefit wah foreigner.”

Among those small men is Myron Marin, proprietor of Three Star Tours. Over the years Marin has invested heavily in his company and now fears that the introduction of higher standards, which he believes was done to undermine small operators, will run him out of business.

Myron Marin, Tender Owner

Myron Marin

“We only have the max of up to a hundred and twenty passengers. So basically what they’re trying to say is that all the local operators are actually not going to have a job again. I’m here standing along with the other guys totally clueless as to what’s happening. We’re basically going on what people are saying, [the] little information that is being thrown in our direction but still, nothing clear, nothing to say that I know exactly what’s happening more than Thursday I have no job.”

According to David Almendarez he too will be forced to terminate the services of his deckhands.

David Almendarez

David Almendarez, Tender Owner

“If things stand the way they are I have no employees because basically they have called us and said they will not use us. So if they don’t use us I can’t use my employees so basically four people just lost their jobs as a result of this move and every Belizean, and every true born Belizean in the tendering industry has literally been boxed out and all the money now is going to the foreigners.”

For small stakeholders in the cruise tourism industry it’s another strange twist to an already volatile situation. This change comes on the heels of a newly implemented zoning project in the Fort George area. Marin says their next move is to seek an audience with the Ministry of Tourism.

Jason Marin

“The next step will be we’ll see if we could get an audience with maybe the Minister of Tourism or the Prime Minister to see if he could support us in any way because our house is on the line I mean we have big investments [and] huge, huge debts to pay with the banks and these guys are coming in. I understand they are getting concessions. It’s really; really ridiculous they are raping the country. It’s like what Mr. Greenwood says we are walking down the street with just a shirt on and from the waist down there’s nothing.”

If the deal goes through, Pride of America will succeed in monopolizing the local tendering business, further alienating local stakeholders who have invested their lives in developing the cruise tourism industry in Belize. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

There is still no word from the Belize Tourism Board and we are still to find out who’s putting the deal together.

Channel 5

Tenders Operators Say Carnival Is Squeezing Them Out

You may not be familiar with the term boat tenders - those are the massive, locally made vessels that pick up cruise visitors from their ships and carry them to the Fort Street Tourism Village.

The local boat operators have been providing the service to Carnival Cruise lines for 14 years - but today they were told, it ends, on Thursday because Carnival has now engaged a foreign provider to service them with bigger tender vessels. It's a tremendous and unexpected blow to these local businessmen who have invested millions in these massive boats. This evening, we found them outside Eurocaribe - the shipping agent that used to hire them - looking for answers or some kind of remedy:….

Jason Marin, Triple J Tenders
"As of Thursday this week this new guy, this new company will take over tendering for the Carnival Cruise Lines. They had a meeting yesterday in Miami and the vice president for Carnival stated that no tender under 150 passengers capacity will be able to work."

Jules Vasquez
"Do any of our tenders in Belize meet that requirement?"

Jason Marin, Triple J Tenders
"Our local guys....no."

David Almendarez, Starly Boat Tenders
"It's just like if somebody tells you you are fired. We showed up this afternoon and they say well guys the bigger fishes are here, you small fish are fired."

Luis Marin, Reef Beauty Charters
"Shock, just feel shock, I don't know what to say about it. It's a shame."

Myron Marin, 3 Star Tours - employs 30
"I just found out about 2-3 days ago that this was happening, no kind of warning it's just like a bomb thrown to us. I am here with my other local guys just trying to ask questions. Right now it's basically what to do, where to go to? Where can we get some answers, some real answers on this situation of what's happening. We don't know but we are concern because all of our livelihood are here in this business that we have created nothing to something and now somebody that we don't even know is coming here and taking it over."

Jules Vasquez
"How will this affect you in the immediate, in the short term?"

Luis Marin, Reef Beauty Charters
"This affect me completely right now, I get stand still, I can't do anything with my boats them."

Jules Vasquez
"So you have workers, you have employees, so what will you tell them?"

Luis Marin, Reef Beauty Charters
"Well I have to go and talk to them, tell them that somebody else is taking over, Everybody needs to come together and talk to the government, what they are doing to all these people who will be out of work."

Myron Marin, 3 Star Tours - employs 30
"We just made a bog investment to hit this high season of 5-6 tender boats."

Jules Vasquez
"How big?"

Myron Marin, 3 Star Tours - employs 30
"80 - 120 passengers' boats."

Jules Vasquez
"How much is the investment roughly?"

Myron Marin, 3 Star Tours - employs 30
"For this season alone probably about 3 million dollars, so definitely I will be directly affected by this."

Jason Marin, Triple J Tenders
"It's really putting us at a disadvantage, we have huge mortgages, our homes and different things, we have - just our family alone have about 3 million dollars invested in these boats."

Luis Marin, Reef Beauty Charters
"The government, the Prime Minister should try to put a stop on this kind of thing that is happening. There will be so much people with so much tender left out. So much money invested, so much people that are working and then to bring in foreigners and offers the workers little bit of money because they can't do better."

Jason Marin, Triple J Tenders
"You are looking at hundreds of people getting affected in a time like now just to benefit a few people or foreigner."

David Almendarez, Starly Boat Tenders
"This is the last frontier for Belizeans. This group of people that you see here, we are 100% Belizeans, we are born here, some of us have started this industry - they can tell you about using their 20 foot boats, doing 20 trips a day systematically they have been breaking it down and now you have a few well connected Belizeans coupled with foreigners trying to swipe everybody."

Jason Marin, Triple J Tenders
"Jules to tell you the truth we appreciate the business but we all believe that if the Belizeans won't be able to eat from it well best we all stand and make an example because every time the foreigners come in and walk over us and there is nothing the Belizeans do, everybody sit back and just enjoy the ride while we get screw."

David Almendarez, Starly Boat Tenders
"They are all silent assassins, there is nobody who come and say this is happening. Everything you find is when it's happening. It's systematically for a few people to get rich and for the majority to get poor while we wait to start 2011."

The boat owners gathered today own a combined 25 TENDERS which employ about 75 persons on the boats. A few local tenders can carry 150 passengers, but the bulk of the tender vessels are those who can carry 90 - 110 passengers….

Channel 7

#396377 - 01/05/11 03:38 PM Re: Foreign catamarans threaten to wipe out locals [Re: Marty]
papashine Offline
I find the entire concept a little more then disturbing, can this actually be done?
Reality..What a concept!

#396390 - 01/05/11 05:23 PM Re: Foreign catamarans threaten to wipe out locals [Re: Marty]
Diane Campbell Offline
If true, this is completely deplorable.

#396489 - 01/06/11 03:22 PM Re: Foreign catamarans threaten to wipe out locals [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

To The Tender Operators’ Rescue: The PM To Miami

Last night on the news you heard Boat tender operators complaining bitterly because they were told that as of Thursday - they'd have no work - a new foreign operator with massive catamaran vessels would be taking up their jobs.

For these local investors with millions of dollars invested and dozens of workers employed, the news is dire and they called on the government to intervene and protect them. This morning the Prime Minister said he would try and help, but at the same time, he can't say no to progress. The PM first outlined what Carnival told him in a letter.

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize
"Well according to Carnival, first of all it is not true that the tendering is being given to a foreigner. They say it's to Tino Castillo, whether he is partnering with a foreigner I don't know. They say this is a Belizean company. They gave the name of the company."

"Carnival is saying - look what we are doing is to ask that larger tenders be used but that doesn't necessarily mean less business for the pool of tender operators that the larger tenders will in fact be able to ferry additional passengers who now can't come off because when you go with the smaller tenders - the time constraint is too much. They do say that the new arrangements will mean more business overall for all tender operators because Tino Castillo will continue to sub-contract among the pool of tender operators."

"What they do say thought is that there is a minimum carrying capacity that they want to insist be used and I believe that is 150."

Jules Vasquez
"Well you know that exceeds all local....."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize
"That is what I did not know and that is what I am saying we clearly have to discuss."

Jules Vasquez
"So will you use your good offices to try to lean on carnival which has earnings bigger than your GDP?"

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize
"Well exactly, ultimately any tender to operate must get some kind of license from the Port Authority so there is always the last resort. The thing is that while we have to be concern about the elimination of small tender operators who no doubt have loans to service and that sort of thing, ultimately you don't want to give the impression that you are anti-progress either. Carnival says that people get wet in the small tenders, it's not safe and you are not efficient because you are not bringing on shore to increase your business for Belizeans as many passenger as you could so its dynamic, its fluid, I don't think we can take a black and white position. Government will do its best to try to have all parties arrive at a solution that will not stop progress but that will not be oblivious to the concerns of the small tender operators."

There's been a major development since that interview. After meetings between the tender operators and the Ministry of Tourism this evening - it has been agreed that on Friday the Prime Minister, the Minister of Tourism Manuel Herredia and the director Of Tourism Seleni Matu will travel to Miami to meet with executives from Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. They will ask both cruise lines to devise a plan that ensures the continued involvement of local tender operators. In the meantime - and this is the important plan - it will be business as usual tomorrow, meaning all local tenders will operate as normal. Carnival has agreed to suspend the implementation of this new policy that wants to seek higher capacity boats. So, again, the breakthrough is that tomorrow will see business as usual for tender operators working for Carnival cruise lines.

And while that's a happy ending for the time being - to add to the mix, today the members of the Belize Shipping Agents Association issued a statement saying they, quote: "stand in solidarity with Belizean tender operators and owners in their objection to the apparent hijacking of the cruise passenger tender business by a foreign interest," close quote.

Channel 7

#396490 - 01/06/11 03:24 PM Re: Foreign catamarans threaten to wipe out locals [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Tenders; two sides of the cruise tourism debate

The situation remains fluid for tender operators in cruise tourism. Late last week, two catamarans owned by a US company landed at the Blue Creek Port as part of a new deal to take over the tendering process. The tender operators have invested heavily in the business and were clearly taken by surprise at what they saw as a move to put them out of business. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has been following this story.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Tender operators responsible for ferrying cruise ship passengers to the harbor at the Fort Street Tourism Village are up in arms over a new policy which requires local vessels to have a carrying size of no less than a hundred and fifty passengers. The change is unsolicited as small operators believe that it is being implemented to undermine their investments in the tendering aspect of cruise tourism in Belize.

In reading an excerpt from a letter written by Domenico Trigale, Carnival’s Vice President of Port Operations, Prime Minister Barrow summarized that the new measures will bring increased business to vendors and tour operators onshore.

Dean Barrow

“Our guests will now be transported in tenders with a minimum capacity of a hundred and fifty persons. This will allow us to bring greater numbers ashore in a shorter period of time as well as in a safer and more comfortable manner. In the past our guests have felt uncomfortable and unsafe in the smaller tenders and have not enjoyed getting wet during the crossing. This new arrangement will bring the locals more work than they have had before. All in all, we anticipate moving guests in greater comfort and shorter transit times encouraging multiple visitors ashore. We are confident this will result in more business to local shops, restaurants and land tour operators.

According to Jason Marin their perception is that the boats currently being used are no longer fit to transport tourists from ships docked off the coast of Belize City.

Jason Marin, Tender Owner, Triple J Tours

Jason Marin

“What we understand is that theyre saying that our locally built boats are not suitable or not suitable, theyre not up to standard but when you look at the boats that they are bringing in, they brought in two tenders [on] Sunday I understand they came into the country at Big Creek. We got some pictures of them [and] theyre a piece of junk. Theyre some old tenders, I understand, that have been sitting down somewhere in Hawaii for the last five years that was owned by Norwegian, the group of companies and they are putting those now over our locally built tenders and saying that we are not good enough when we know what our tenders are capable of doing. Every time theres a jam and stuff we are the ones that always produce, never had an accident, its very, very minimal that youd hear [of ] someone getting hurt and if someone would be getting hurt it would probably be a deckhand hurting his hand or minor little thing. Nothing to say a tourist or a passenger.”

Dean Barrow

P.M. Barrow attested during his appearance in the media today that those affected will primarily be small boat owners.

Dean Barrow

“It is obvious that the smallest, the smallest of the tender operators will face some difficulties because theyre saying that while Tino Castillos new tenders will not do all of the business. Ive heard that its two tenders that can, with a carrying capacity of two [hundred] fifty [passengers]. Thats still not going to take care of all the business so they insist that more business will be given to other tender operators whom Tino Castillo will subcontract. But they dont want the smallest tenders, they want tenders that have a carrying capacity of not less than a hundred and fifty.”

Although it remains unclear what will happen in the days to come tender operators are already preparing for the worst.

Myron Marin, Tender Owner, Three Star Tours (File: January 4th, 2011)

“Come Thursday, you know, on my part as Three Star Tours we have up to thirty employees, you know. How can I tell these guys that come Thursday now, you know, thats it. We want answers and thats why we have gathered today to just simply get answers on whats the situation. What can government do to assist us as the people that have worked so hard noh to create this business and now it is basically being stripped away from us without any idea of whats happening.”

Myron Marin

While Marin and his colleagues are turning to government for a solution the prime minister also made it clear that it cannot hinder development within the industry.

Dean Barrow

“I dont know that we can stop progress. That is not the business of the government to stop progress. Try to make progress as consistent as possible with compassion but dont stop progress. You cant.”

Tender owner David Almendarez says the new requirements and safety standards are designed to benefit a select few who are well connected in the industry but it will ultimately affect the livelihoods of small operators.

David Almendarez

David Almendarez

“It’s a get rich [quick] scheme for a few people but what these few people fail to realize is the amount of people’s lives they’re putting in [jeopardy]. How much people are going to lose their jobs? It might look simple but like this right here you have people taking home on a very good cruise ship day, regular workers, five hundred dollars, three hundred dollars. In this economy that’s welcome money.”

Both tenders remain in Big Creek and it is not certain whether they will be cleared for operations as of Thursday.

Dean Barrow

“The Port Authority has to license these new tenders and so government is looking at the situation and wants to be sure that in fact we do whatever is possible to protect small tender operators.”

Boat owners met with tourism minister Manuel Heredia and BTB representatives this afternoon to further discuss the matter. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

This afternoon, the Belize Shipping Agents Association issued its position. The Association says it is in solidarity with Belizean tender operators and owners in their rejection to the apparent high jacking of the tender business by a foreign interest. The release says: “The Belizean tender operators have successfully managed and executed their responsibilities as tender owners to the cruise ship industry for the past fifteen years. Throughout this period we have maintained an exemplary safety record, as there have been no major incidents or medical mishaps to cruise ship passengers during the tendering process. We see no need for the attempt by any foreign entity to establish a monopoly in the tendering process.”

Channel 5

#396496 - 01/06/11 03:29 PM Re: Foreign catamarans threaten to wipe out locals [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Prime Minister heading to U.S. to resolve Carnival’s Cruise Tourism crisis

Tour operators are banking that a full blown crisis in cruise tourism may be averted when a delegation of tourism representatives, including the Prime Minister, meets with representatives of Carnival Cruise Lines in Miami this weekend. The operators attended a special meeting late this evening with Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia Jr. along with officials from the Belize Tourism Board to formally address what is seen as a threat to the cruise tourism industry. Over the past three days much has been said about an exclusive tendering contract that would see one foreign operator commanding majority of the jobs to transport visitors to and from the cruise ships. This morning Prime Minister Dean Barrow said on the airwaves that local tender operator, Tino Castillo, would be receiving the contract to transport tourists off the cruise ships. News Five spoke with Castillo prior to the meeting and he told us that he has formally declined that offer. In speaking with us following the meeting, tender owner Myron Marin, stated they are now awaiting the outcome of the sit-down to be held in Miami on Friday. Until then it is business as usual on Thursday.

Myron Marin, Tender Owner, Three Star Tours

“We went up there and we just stated our point noh, on where we stand trying to get some answers, [uhm] some clarity to what’s going on. As far as we are concerned they are going to look into the issue, they are going to have a meeting with the representatives of the cruise lines [on] Friday. Accompanying them would be the prime minister that is very interested in trying to resolve this problem. From there, you know, we will decide our move but as far as we’re concerned we’re right here right now giving them the respect noh to represent us abroad. From there we will see what’s going to happen. Until then, you know, we’re here waiting for them noh to see what is going to happen.”

Isani Cayetano

“What happens tomorrow morning. I know that you guys usually are out there in the mornings tendering passengers off the cruise ships. What happens tomorrow?”

Myron Marin

Myron Marin

“Well for right now come tomorrow it’s going to be work as usual and like I said they’re going to represent us Friday and will bring back good news, you know, we hope. But until then, you know, we’re here and it’s in their hands now.”

Isani Cayetano

“In the prime minister’s appearance in the media this morning he mentioned one Tino Castillo who would have received the contract to do the ferrying of passengers off the cruise ships. Can you speak to us your knowledge of either his involvement in this whole thing or the fact that he has now declined that particular contract?”

Myron Marin

“Well like I said Friday they’re going to go abroad to get some kind of answers from these other cruise lines. Until then what’s fact and what’s not I don’t know so we’re going to put it, like I said again noh, in their hands and from there we’re going to get exactly what’s happening.”

Channel 5

#396601 - 01/07/11 03:37 PM Re: Foreign catamarans threaten to wipe out locals [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

P.M. flies to Miami to quell unrest in Cruise Tourism Industry

Three cruise ships called on port today: Carnival’s Valor and Legend and Aida Luna, a German outfit. Several thousand visitors were transported to shore and back to the cruise lines by the local boat tenders. Business was brisk, but how long will it last? That’s what a top heavy delegation will find out in the next few days in Miami, Florida, where they will have the ears of executives of Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines. The Prime Minister along with the Minister of Tourism and other members of the Belize Tourism Board, traveled to Miami to attempt to stave off a new policy by the cruise lines that is threatening the livelihood of hundreds who were taken aback by the surprise move. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was at the PGIA when the delegation left but earlier he boarded a tender to get a firsthand experience of the process.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

It was business as usual this morning for some twenty odd tenders that made the five mile journey to and from three mega ships moored east of Belize City. Boat captain Danny Weir and his two deckhands Reymundo and Eric are among a hundred and twenty employees who are subcontracted to ferry cruise tourists onto the harbor at the Fort Street Tourism Village. It is no different from previous days when they’ve had to report to work at the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Terminal. From the base of the Swing Bridge the crew launches Ocean Runner, a fifty-five foot boat that is being used for tender operations. For the team however, today’s run means extra money in their pockets.

Eric Guevara

Eric Guevara, Deckhand, Caye Caulker Water Taxi

“I used to work as a tender before, that was the full [time] job I use to have, you know, but now thank God I work in Caye Caulker Water Taxi so I have a salary now. But before, you know, when I used to work in tendering as a daily pay it was really, really tough, you know, because you get pay depending on how much days you work.”

That difficulty forced Guevara to find a permanent job shuttling passengers to Caye Caulker and San Pedro but unlike him the livelihoods of his peers remain uncertain. A new policy that was recently implemented by Carnival Cruise Line threatens to leave them jobless if their employers fail to meet specific standards. For that reason a delegation of tourism officials including the prime minister flew to Miami to negotiate an extension for tender owners to meet the new requirements. According to P.M. Barrow the cruise lines had notified EuroCaribe Shipping Services of those changes prior to being put into effect.

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“That main provider was told some time ago that these are the changes that Carnival wishes to make and it is my understanding that Carnival felt that that main provider would in turn inform the subcontractors. Now that wasn’t done. Whether it is the case that the notification was given to the main provider I can’t really say so this is one of the difficulties that we’re confronting, that we’re not sure if there’s a need not to apportion blame but to say to the cruise lines as reasonable people you cannot expect the Government and Belizeans to accept an abrupt change in policy.”

To understand how the adjustments will affect those in the tendering business I joined the crew on a trip where we picked up a group of tourists from Aida Luna, a German cruise ship that made a port of call to Belize. What stood out immediately was the expertise with which deckhands docked their vessels near the anchored liner.

Eric Guevara

“It’s kind of, you know, hard and dangerous sometimes depends on the sea and depends on the weather you know. Like today is a very beautiful day so it’s very calm, easy you know. You just go out there, today you just go [and] hand them the rope or sometimes you just give them the rope, tie in the cleat you know and you just tie bumpers and just make sure that the boat is secure then your passengers can come in. We stand by the entrance of the boat and help the passengers, you know, so that they don’t drop especially when it’s rough it’s very dangerous. A few people have gotten hurt.”

While it is a dangerous undertaking its payout on a good day can net tender operators a few hundred dollars each. The bigger picture nonetheless is for stakeholders to be able to make good on their investments. A single catamaran is said to be worth a little over half a million dollars.

Dean Barrow

“The boat owners obviously have loans to service, debts to repay. The employees have mouths to feed. It seems to me that it really is a matter of national importance and so in that context, particularly because you’re talking about citizens, families, livelihoods we need to signal to the cruise lines that as a country we take this possible crisis very seriously.”

There are concerns in the industry that a contract to tender exclusively for Carnival and Royal Caribbean is being sought by a foreign entity. Reymundo Heredia, himself a former tender, says it would be unfair to allow an outsider to compete in the business.

Reymundo Heredia

Reymundo Heredia, Deckhand, Caye Caulker Water Taxi

“I noh think ih fair fu mek dehn bring een wah foreigner fu mek dehn come tek ova fu we job noh. Like if wah otha dog di come tek weh wah next dog bone and we cyant allow that fu happen mein cause we need fu eat too, noh only dehn one weh just wahn come een and tek ova fu we business.”

Despite the many concerns that have been raised over the past few days Prime Minister Barrow says he will do everything in the best interest of tender owners.

Dean Barrow

“If I have to beg I will beg. If I have to cuss and kick and threaten I will do that. I don’t know how much leverage I have. Clearly this is a complex situation. These people are saying look we’re bringing bigger ships with more passengers. We need therefore to be able to offload more passengers. We all know the time constraints, it’s a what six hour window or whatever the case is, a very, very short window in any event.”

That limited timeframe nevertheless has proven sufficient for local tenders to make the excursion to all three ships anchored off the coast in a matter of minutes as opposed to the larger cats, Guevara says.

Eric Guevara

“I like the boats because they are faster, [more] comfortable you understand me and those big catamarans takes about fifty minutes, seventy minutes. Meanwhile these ones would take like eight, nine minutes only so most of the tourists I would say, you know, like speed, like small boats because they take less time to get to shore.”

But while tourists have expressed their satisfaction with the service change in the tendering sector seems inevitable. In addition to the new policies local tenders are also required to be insured for two million U.S. dollars. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Channel 5

#396602 - 01/07/11 03:38 PM Re: Foreign catamarans threaten to wipe out locals [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Institute of Marine Studies in solidarity with tourism locals

The Belize Shipping Agents Association has already said it objects to the takeover of the tendering operations by foreign interests. Today other organizations also say they are on the side of the local tender operators. The opposition People’s United Party says that G.O.B. must act decisively to ensure that the livelihood of local operators is protected and that Belizeans should not be victimized to benefit a foreign interest. The P.U.P. went further to allege that there is collaboration with a well-placed U.D.P. insider, who was not named. The P.U.P. leader, according to the release, has also met with the local operators and stands ready to join forces with the stakeholders to do whatever is necessary to protect local interests.

The Institute of Marine Studies also says it is in solidarity with the local cruise ship tenders. In a strongly worded release, the I.M.S. appeals to “those Belizeans who have been enlisted to partake in this rape of the Jewel to resist the temptation of easy money and to commit themselves to a process that will see Belizean stakeholders being treated as partners by Carnival rather than subjects.”

Channel 5

#396608 - 01/07/11 03:47 PM Re: Foreign catamarans threaten to wipe out locals [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Fantastic Four; Can they Bend Carnival Corporation’s Will?

Tender operators worked as normal today in the Belize Harbour - but there are grave concerns for their future as Carnival Cruise Lines has changed its policy on the size of tenders that can transport its visitors.

That's why tonight the Prime Minister is in Miami leading a delegation which will meet with Cruise Line Executives tomorrow. They will negotiate to have the Cruise Lines hold back on implementation of their new policy and continue to use the tenders which employ close to a hundred Belizeans.

7news was at the airport when the group left today:…

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"We need to signal to the cruise lines that as a country we take this possible crisis very seriously and therefore it seems to me that its absolutely correct that I go personally."

And with that the PM, Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia, CEO Lindsey Garbutt and Tourism Director Seleni Matus set off on a singular mission.

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"We are going to meet with certainly two of the three, or the two major cruise lines and the idea is to see if we can reach some arrangement that would avert this implementation of this new policy at least short term."

In the immediate term - meaning today - the tender operators did get a day's reprieve - ferrying passengers off three Carnival cruise ships that made calls on Belize. And while they've argued that they were given no notice from Carnival, that is a matter of some dispute.

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"In terms of the tender operators, they had no notice, we cannot allow in my view for their business to be eliminated in one fell swoop without any prior notification. Certainly I can't understand why there was no prior notification of the desire to change policy. One answer to that that has been given was that there was such notification, that in fact Carnival contracts tender services, who in turn sub-contracts, and that main provider was told some time ago that these are the changes that Carnival wishes to make and it is my understanding that Carnival felt that that main provider would in turn inform the sub-contractors. Now that wasn't done. At this juncture I have to confess to you that I still am not certain where - and I am not going to shy away from the word - the fault lies in terms of not giving the owners of these smaller tenders any opportunity to transition, any opportunity to prepare for the shift in policy."

So it's not Carnival's fault, per se, but still the government will insist for the tender operators to retain their foothold in the industry:

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"In terms of strategy and in terms of tactics, it dates me but was it The Temptations who sang a song, 'Ain't Too Proud to Beg'? If I have to beg I will beg, if I have to curse and kick and threaten I will do that, I don't know how much leverage I have."

But he knows they do not have enough leverage to drive the hardest bargain:

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I don't know that we could ever easily contemplate a situation in which we say to the cruise lines 'well listen, government's position is you will not do this; we will not allow you to do this and if you don't like it, you can walk away.' Now any cost benefit analysis will tell you that makes no sense. We don't in any way mean to sacrifice any of the tender operators but at the same time you cannot pursue a course of action that could succeed in collapsing the entire industry thus putting not just the tender operators out of business but all those people who benefit from the unsure traffic that the cruise sector also provides."

The meetings in Miami will be held tomorrow with Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. The team returns on Sunday and we'll have the results in Monday's newscast.

It is of note that Carnival Cruise Line has introduced an across the board new corporate policy requiring all tenders to have a minimum capacity of 150 persons and that all tenders be insured through the P&I Club for $2 Million USD.

The PUP today issued a release saying that if the negotiations don't produce a favorable outcome, quote: "the PUP stands ready to join forces with these tourism stakeholders to do whatever is necessary to protect local interests."

Channel 7

#396663 - 01/07/11 11:28 PM Re: Foreign catamarans threaten to wipe out locals [Re: Marty]
Mike Campbell Offline
It is the responsibility of the government to regulate these types of industries for the best interest of the people of Belize. If we have entered into a relationship with the cruise industry that we cannot control I do not see how it will be beneficial to the people of Belize.
If we are building our economy on these types of relationships, of which oil may be one, we have effectively lost control of the country to multinational interests.
It is a thin line to walk but please Mr. PM stand up for the sovereign rights of Belize to regulate the industry. A good minded business partner would have informed the government of the proposed changes rather than saying well now this is how it will be.
I believe the solution lies in the power of the government not in groveling to cruise companies. The GOB can easily set parameters of operation, if they have not done so.
Considering the amount of money that is not staying in Belize the cruise industry may not be as beneficial as is believed by some. Our overnight guests are the heart and soul of our tourism industry. They come to see our natural wonders and antiquities and are appreciative and for the most part show an environmental sensitivity.
Belize is just another stop for the cruise crowd and certainly not a destination. The day trippers from the cruise lines are depleting the very things that bring our overnight visitors with now less and less positive economic impact. Many of our overnight guests request we book tours to the major attractions on the days when the cruise ships are not here. Their philosophy of tourism is diametrically opposed to the cruise ship passenger mentality who is a model of conspicuous consumption.The internationalization of our tourism industry must be regarded with apprehension. We are small and must protect our limited resources. If we cannot control the cruise companies we should not have them here.
Lets get some fresh ideas as to our direction.

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