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Marty Offline

The San Pedro Town Council is asking craft vendors to move off the beach.

Jorge Aldana reporting…
 “Ask tourist and they will tell you that they get better deals purchasing souvenirs from vendors on the beach and street sides. It’s a style that is unique to the island and is the livelihood of many artisans. However, the beachside craft vendors and wood carvers were given until yesterday to move from the beach. The order came from the San Pedro Town Council and is now being enforced by the Tourism Police Officers who gave two options; move voluntarily or they will be removed by force.   
The unpopular decision taken by the municipality is not taken lightly by the craft vendors and wood carvers who have been using the beach for years to market their crafts to the tourists. According to the beachside vendors, they were informed by the tourism police officer that they must leave the beach and relocate elsewhere. The big question is; relocate where? One such beachside craft vendor affected is Sherlet Castro."

Sherlet Castro -  Beachside Craft Vendor
“Last week Thursday, one of the police came and told me that we have to come off the beach in one week’s time.  Why?  He did not have a reason why because the Mayor does not want us on the beach. I said okay and you have to get out your trade licence, trade licence is no problem but where are you going to sell?  Where will you sell your products.  They want us to go to the park when the park is already full."

Jorge Aldana - Reporter
Did you go to Town Council?

Sherlet Castro     - Beachside Craft Vendor
“I went there and saw the one who give out the trade licence and he told me if I sold in front of a restaurant I need permission from them so I could sell in front of their place.  I don’t know why because that is no problem for me to sell on the beach and collect my money. That is what we do to sell our children to school."

Jorge Aldana - Reporter
For what reason?  You are in a public ground, why should you get a letter from these businesses?

Sherlet Castro - Beachside Craft Vendor
“Well I don’t know why they want to that.  One of my friends told me when he went they told him it would take one month to get the licence but you can’t sell within that month.  How will your family eat?”

Like Castro, the other artisans echoed the same sentiment. Castro says that while she has been selling on the beach for 3 years, her common law husband has been on the beach for almost 20 years. Castro says that she will not be move off the beach because she has no other place to go. Sherlet Castro is one of almost 30 vendors scattered along different areas on the beach.   The Administrator of the San Pedro Town Council Patricia Tillett told Love News that she is not authorized to speak to the media and referred us to the Mayor. Despite multiple requests for an interview, Mayor Elsa Paz refused to grant us an interview. Listeners may recall that Mayor Paz told the media earlier this year that she will not grant anymore media interviews for the rest of her term in office. When we checked today, the vendors were determined and were still on the beach.”


#410040 - 06/17/11 09:50 AM Re: CRAFT VENDORS IN SAN PEDRO ASKED TO RELOCATE [Re: Marty]
Otteralum Offline
Booooooooooo. Sounds to me like some business owners are flexing their muscle at the expense of the rest of the people.
I will have a Belikin -- put it on klcman's tab.

#410045 - 06/17/11 10:50 AM Re: CRAFT VENDORS IN SAN PEDRO ASKED TO RELOCATE [Re: Otteralum]
SnoopysMom Offline
Might be time for the town council to actually do a little planning and lease park area spaces to the street vendors.

I am all for free commerce, but doesn't sound like many of these guys actually have trade licenses. One has to wonder if all are Belize citizens / in the country legally. Can you say "double standard"? Just sayin....

#410046 - 06/17/11 10:53 AM Re: CRAFT VENDORS IN SAN PEDRO ASKED TO RELOCATE [Re: Marty]
Amanda Syme Offline
The town council really needs to create a location for a handicraft market.

No doubt every visitor and many locals would go out of their way to visit a handicraft market. I know I always do when I go on vacation or when I am introducing my visiting friends to my island home.

If we had a prescribed handicraft market area permanent sun and rain shades could be erected and decorated, restrooms with running water could be supplied and the legitimate vendors would have their personalized booths and necessary hawkers licenses etc.

The restaurants and other businesses such as gift shops and hotels spend thousands of dollars each year for their trade licenses, liquor licenses, food handlers certificates etc etc. In some cases the street vendors are selling the same items as the gift shops that they are parked in front of. The vendors do not have a place to go to the relieve themselves - before the crowd was moved off the beach in front of the primary school the entire area smelled like a truck stop restroom. And this is where hundreds of kids play and eat lunch each school day. Some of the vendors are absolutely undesirables, selling drugs and human trafficking. Many play loud music and make a ruckus, which is not the allure of why many people come to San Pedro.

Unfortunately, sometimes the honest and hardworking handicraft people are negatively impacted by the bad deeds of those unscrupulous people that hide under the guise of their industry.

The flat truth of the matter is that the free ranging vendors and many of the vendors that plonk themselves down in front of businesses and on the beach are a complete nuisance. Some are beggars and some harass and harangue tourists to the point of tears.

Having a market place is the solution.

#410047 - 06/17/11 11:16 AM Re: CRAFT VENDORS IN SAN PEDRO ASKED TO RELOCATE [Re: Marty]
mawags Offline
I thought the beaches were open to all the public? I have been to San Pedro 4 times in the last year and have never been harassed by any of the vendors, i kinda like to walk the beach and see what the locals have to offer, it's what San Pedro is all about! I do think if they are gonna force them off the beach, they should provide the vendors with a place to display their crafts. These people have a right to make a living too!

#410053 - 06/17/11 11:55 AM Re: CRAFT VENDORS IN SAN PEDRO ASKED TO RELOCATE [Re: Marty]
JZB Offline
I would love to see an Artisan park instead of having vendors all lined up on the roads and beaches. It would make souvenir shopping a lot easier and less expensive if everyone was in one location. I'd bet every single tourist who comes to the island would visit the Artisan Park at least once which would increase the vendors visibility as opposed to being scattered about. Something similar, but to a smaller scale of what they have in Ocho Rios Jamaica.

This is not the first time this subject has come up and vendors have been kicked off the beach. It is unfortunate that San Pedro Town has not come up with a plan for them yet because they will not just disappear.

#410054 - 06/17/11 12:14 PM Re: CRAFT VENDORS IN SAN PEDRO ASKED TO RELOCATE [Re: Marty]
pamkillen Offline
I have to agree with Amanda.
When I travel, I love going to central markets as well.
The library had a terrible time getting the vendors off the beach and we could watch them daily making illegal sales and peeing on the walls of the library. When you asked them to stop, they became belligerent. At one point we had to ask for police presence
when the librarian closed up in the evening
Before BTB moved upstairs, they actually made semi permanent living quarters.
There is no inherent right to sell drugs, relieve oneself in a child's playground , and
be generally pesky.

#410055 - 06/17/11 12:24 PM Re: CRAFT VENDORS IN SAN PEDRO ASKED TO RELOCATE [Re: Marty]
Diane Campbell Offline

The people who rent spaces from property owners for stores have considerable investments / create cash-flow for local property owners who in turn pay their taxes. It's a source if income for the community as well as the vendor. Shop owners have to pay for a trades license, pay rent, utilities etc. They are also frequently visited and audited by the folks from Business Tax to be sure they pay their fair share of income tax etc.

The beach vendors are making no such contributions to the economy, and in some ways undercut the finances of those people who are running businesses that comply with the law. Not fair play at all.

Yes the beaches are public domain - for passage, for enjoyment - but I dont' think that is intended to mean an individual can simply take it over for profit-making activities. A parallel is the seabed - if you use the sea-bed for a dock you pay rent, and the number of docks is limited.

The artisan's market being proposed is a solution that makes sense.

Further I would like to mention that it is illegal for children to work --- yet every day I am approached by little kids selling bracelets etc - we sign on to international conventions about the rights of the child and then ignore the basic premise?

#410058 - 06/17/11 02:03 PM Re: CRAFT VENDORS IN SAN PEDRO ASKED TO RELOCATE [Re: Marty]
Otteralum Offline
I defer to locals on how they want to run their country, and I can appreciate the need for a society to equally administer their tax laws, however this is very draconion without an alternative. Sounds like an artisan park is a solution most on the board agree with.
I will have a Belikin -- put it on klcman's tab.

#410059 - 06/17/11 02:13 PM Re: CRAFT VENDORS IN SAN PEDRO ASKED TO RELOCATE [Re: Marty]
Diane Campbell Offline
I don't think this is draconian, sorry.

These vendors had a free ride and want to turn it into a "right".

They lived on the margins, knowing they were doing so. If they had not gotten out of hand they probably would not be taken to task at all.

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