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#447493 - 09/27/12 01:21 PM Caves Branch Suffers Damages at the Hands of Loote
Marty Offline
Tourism has become the bread and butter for many people at home, while foreigners come to enjoy the sea, jungle and wildlife.

But while many people were celebrating our nation’s 31st Independence Day anniversary, someone or some people were busily defacing and rendering the entertainment features at one of Belize’s most popular tourist destinations unsafe and hazardous to human life.

The Ministry of Tourism and the National Institute of Culture and History, NICH, issued a press release this evening informing that over the weekend of September 22nd and 23rd, the Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve, also known as Caves Branch located off the Western Highway, suffered some serious damages at the hands of someone with bad intentions.

The release states that the damages reported are deemed substantial enough to pose a serious safety risk to users at the site. These include damages to the rappel platform when someone cut the client safety lines, the rope barrier, and the metal supports of the platform and to the anchor cable. The looters also torched a portion of the entrance stairway to the Crystal Cave.

The Ministry says that it has commenced an investigation along with the Police Department and that those found to be responsible for the act of sabotage will be dealt with.

LOVEFM

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#447494 - 09/27/12 01:23 PM Re: Caves Branch Suffers Damages at the Hands of Loote [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Press Release - September 26, 2012 - Ministry of Tourism & Culture and the National Institute of Culture & History - It has come to the attention of the Ministry of Tourism & Culture and the National Institute of Culture & History (N.I.C.H.), that on the weekend of September 22nd – September 23rd, 2012, an act of sabotage. Damages reported are deemed substantive enough to pose a serious safety risk to users at this site. Damages to the rappel platform include the cutting of client safety lines, the rope barrier, as well as partial cuts to the metal supports of the platform and to the anchor cable. There was also evidence of fire damage to portions of the entrance stairway to the Crystal Cave.e was perpetrated at the Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve (commonly referred to as Cave’s Branch), one of Belize’s premier Archaeological Reserves and tourist destinations, located in the Cayo District.

The Ministry of Tourism & Culture and N.I.C.H. are disheartened and deeply saddened by the unfortunate course of events. We are fully cognizant of the ramifications such acts of sabotage can have on the integrity of the country’s tourism product, the quality of the visitor experience, the investment environment, and on the sector as a whole. The Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve receives the most visitors of any tourist site in the country and activities at this park represent a significant contribution to the livelihoods of hundreds of Belizeans. Additionally, being the largest revenue generator for N.I.C.H., this park supports the maintenance, management and improvement of visitor facilities for archaeological reserves throughout the country.

The Ministry of Tourism & Culture and N.I.C.H. view this attack as criminal and maintain its Zero Tolerance Policy against such acts at any of the sites it manages. The Ministry of Tourism & Culture and N.I.C.H. informs the public that, with the support of the Ministry of National Security and the Police Department, a full and thorough investigation will immediately commence. Those who may be found responsible for this act of sabotage will be dealt with within the strictest level of the law.

The Ministry of Tourism & Culture, would like to give its highest assurance to all concerned, that the safety of stakeholders and visitors is our most important priority. The Ministry of Tourism & Culture and N.I.C.H. look forward to continue improving visitor facilities, through strengthening of relations and in cooperation with all industry partners.

For further information please contact the Ministry of Tourism & Culture at telephone no: 227-2801/02 or at email address info@tourism.gov.bz or the National Institute of Culture at telephone no: 227-0518 or at email address: info@nichbelize.org

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#447495 - 09/27/12 01:39 PM Re: Caves Branch Suffers Damages at the Hands of Loote [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Tourism war and sabotage at Nohoch Che’en

Now for some bad news, the rappelling platform constructed by Chukka Belize at Caves Branch was recently at the center of contention with the Federation of Cruise Tourism Association of Belize. FECTAB claimed that Chukka desecrated the Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve and was endangering visitors; those claims were quickly shot down by the National Institute of Culture and History. Well, tonight there is news from the Ministry of Tourism & Culture and NICH that over the past weekend, the rappel platform was sabotaged. The damage includes the cutting of client safety lines and the rope barrier, as well as partial cuts to the metal supports of the platform and to the anchor cable. There was also evidence of fire damage at the entrance stairway to the Crystal Cave. According to NICH, it poses a serious safety risk to visitors at this site and can have serious ramifications on the country’s tourism product and investment environment. The sabotage is being treated as a criminal act and an investigation has been launched in collaboration with the Ministry of National Security and the Police Department. In keeping with its zero tolerance policy, NICH says that whoever is found responsible will be punished to the full extent of the law. It also notes that the Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve is the largest revenue generator for NICH and, therefore, supports the maintenance, management and improvement of facilities at archaeological reserves throughout the country.

Channel 5


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#447496 - 09/27/12 01:40 PM Re: Caves Branch Suffers Damages at the Hands of Loote [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Vicious Vandalism At Jaguar Paw On Chukka’s Repelling Platform

For weeks in the media you've been hearing the uproar about the rappelling platform that Chukka Tours installed at Jaguar Paw.

Well sometime between Saturday and Sunday someone vandalized the rappelling platform - and form the looks of it wanted to destroy or disable the structure.

According to a release from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the platform was damaged and there was also evidence of fire damage to portions of the entrance stairway to the Crystal Cave.

We spoke with Chukka's country manager Valerie Woods about the extent of the damage:

Valerie Woods - Country Manager, Chukka Tours (Via Telephone)
"The rappelling platform is still intact. There was clearly an attack, and an immature one at that, it appears, to take it down, or to make it unsafe. We have inspectors coming in tomorrow to do - as per our standard operating procedure - a check on the areas that they did try to do damage to. The platform structure itself is intact. There were attempts to try and make a serious safety issue to try to hack saw through some of the metal piping, but as we have continually stated, we build our structures to international standards, and we renege, obviously, from that because of these attempts. The structure itelf remains intact, but we have to go through an inspection of those areas. There was an attempt, and there will be certain sections that may have to be replaced. I can't say that we were necessarily surprised. It is a very unfortunate incident, the lengths that a few people will go to. This has obviously been incited, and so we're not surprised, but it's unfortunate that it has occurred becaus it is the visited who have been affected, and the industry."

Jules Vasquez
"Do you blame FECTAB for this?"

Valerie Woods
"I cannot blame anyone because obviously an investigation will have to be done, and the relevant authorities are looking into that, but there has been proclamations that the platform must be removed, and other things of that nature. So, I am not surprised that this would have resulted in some people taking matters into their own hands."

Jules Vasquez
"FECTAB has issued a release saying that it absolutely condemns any illegal activity in any form or way and sticks to its policy of legal objections and conduct. Are you swayed by this?"

Valerie Woods
"It's good to know that they quickly stated that, as I'm sure that they would have needed to do so, but Chukka is in the business of trying to conduct tours in a safe and responsible. We will not listen the rhethoric of FECTAB."

There is no cost estimate for the damages at this time. Woods says once the platform is repaired and certified it will be re-opened at the same location.

Referring again to that FECTAB statement, it says, quote: "FECTAB absolutely condemns ANY illegal activity in any form or way, and sticks to its policy of LEGAL objections and conduct..."

It continues, quote: "We at the same time, ask the authorities at every level to ensure a thorough look at this event"

It concludes by saying, quote: "FECTAB hopes this matter can be resolved properly, and that in future we need to stick to the very rules and regulations we have so painstakingly put together to protect, preserve and improve our tourism product."

A release form the Ministry of Tourism and Culture says, quote:

"The Ministry of Tourism & Culture and N.I.C.H. view this attack as criminal and maintain its Zero Tolerance Policy against such acts at any of the sites it manages. The Ministry of Tourism & Culture and N.I.C.H. informs the public that, with the support of the Ministry of National Security and the Police Department, a full and thorough investigation will immediately commence. Those who may be found responsible for this act of sabotage will be dealt with within the strictest level of the law." End quote.

Jaguar Paw, properly known as the The Nohoch Che'en Archaeological Reserve receives the most visitors of any tourist site in the country.

Channel 7


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#447560 - 09/28/12 12:58 PM Re: Caves Branch Suffers Damages at the Hands of Loote [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

FECTAB Still Chafed Over Chukka

Last night on this newscast you heard country manager for Chukka tours, Valerie Woods squarely accuse FECTAB of inciting the atmosphere that lead to the attempted destruction of their rappelling platform at Jaguar Paw.

Today we asked the crowd called FECTAB how they feel about that characterization - here's what they had to say:..

Tom Greenwood
"We didn't do it but we incited it, might as well say that we did it. It would be an act of total stupidity and illegal and criminal act on our part which would be - I can't use the right words in the media - but it's just flies in the face of all reason. We categorically deny anything with a stupid act like that."

Yohnny Rosado - cavetubing.com
"We didn't want any criminals to go and burn up Chukka, we don't want anything like that because we are fighting a good cause and so we want all the right things in our way. We don't want anything illegal done to them."

David Almendarez, "Cave Tubing R Us"
"We categorically deny this. This is contra-productive to the system that we are going. It doesn't benefit any of us to instill fear because all of us used the cave systems, all of us go in it and it would be stupid of us to try something like that."

Yohnny Rosado - cavetubing.com
"We ask the people out there who are trying to sabotage Chukka - don't do it, let them take it down themselves. We don't need to take down anything. They put it up there, let them move it smoothly. Just as how they do it overnight - they could remove it overnight. We don't ask for no criminal or no sabotage out there. We don't want that. We want the peaceful demonstration, whenever we ask of anything again - it comes peacefully."

And while FECTAB disavows any involvement or any inciting - they still remain firmly opposed to the rappelling platform and want it removed.

And now, they have a new battle cry. They are pointing to what they call a hidden walkway which goes right over the entrance to cave #3 - which again they say is causing a substantial hazard.

We have both sides of this particular dispute:..

David Almendarez, "Cave Tubing R Us"
"Basically we are saying to access the platform you need to go over the cave` to access - you don't drop out of the sky - you need to walk over a path that they made that leads over the main entrance and leads to the platform."

Tom Greenwood
"Should you end up with 15-20 people on a suspended walkway directly over the cave system."

Valerie Woods - Country Manager, Chukka Tours
"The trail that one uses to access to get to the platform is approximately anywhere from 25-30 feet away from the edge of the cave entrance below and is buffered by a rail which outside of the rail has many layers and barriers of natural foliage, trees and so forth."

"There is no such truth to the allegations just as there never has been to the rocks falling, just has there never has been to this rappelling platform is above cave 3 and so now they've shifted from that and saying it's not the rappel platform but now it is a walkway that is over the cave entrance. That is an absolute inaccurate statement."

Tom Greenwood
"Quite frankly I don't know how to respond because when you stand up at cave 3 and you see a line of people and you can't see the walkway but they know they've got to be standing over a walkway directly over the caves and you think wow! Something drops from there and then they access the platform one by one - where is the lie? What's going on here?"

Jules Vasquez
"They are foreseeable be in the queuing process someone slips and a stone becomes dislodges...."

Valerie Woods
"No, the trail to get here is recess beyond these trees. It's an inaccurate statement, it continues to be irresponsible and we will continue to denounce every time."

Yohnny Rosado - cavetubing.com
"We are not going to be quarrelling because what they are doing above us is the ultimate - it doesn't belongs there and we don't want it and the ask the government and the Belize Tourism Board to please check on it - there is a website named "Trip Advisor" let that website be the judge who is bad and who is the good because somebody on the bottom of us which is Chukka is number 20 on Trip Advisor."

"They are telling us that we are crazy and we have been giving a good service for the past 13 years non-stop, so something is wrong."

Jaguar Paw, properly known as the The Nohoch Che'en Archaeological Reserve id the most visited tourist site in the country.

Channel 7


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