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#462465 - 04/16/13 06:04 AM Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal?
Marty Offline

GOB In Talk With Norwegian; Causes Conservation/Cruise Sector Worries

Tonight, waves of concern continue to ripple across the Tourism Sector as the Government of Belize has engaged in talks with the Cruise Tourism giant, Norwegian Cruise Line, about a major Cruise terminal on a small island in Southern Belize.

Reliable information to 7News is that NCL has approached GOB with a proposal to build a cruise port to call in Placencia. Part of the plan is to purchase Crawl Caye, which is a few miles away from mainland Placencia, to operate marine tours. Crawl Caye is a privately owned island currently on sale on the internet for 6 million US dollars.

One of the major concerns about this development is that Crawl Caye sits inside the South Water Marine Reserve, which is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. Environmentalists have contacted our newsroom so provide us with the opinion that all the major development to accommodate this cruise port will have major environmental impacts because of the close proximity to the Barrier Reef, which the website advertisement proudly boasts of as a perk to owning the island.

Another concern is that an extensive consultation done by the BTB indicates that cruise tourism may be a detriment to the country if it is opened up to the south, particularly because it would threaten the ecotourism model currently employed in that area. Those we’ve spoken to are particularly disturbed that the proposal is even being entertained as it would be in direct contravention to the recommendations made in those reports.

Finally, members of the local tourism sector based in Belize City are particularly threatened because they believe that the possibility exists that NCL will be given rights – which they can exercise if they so choose – to route other cruise lines to the south. Those stakeholders are of the opinion that this could destabilize cruise tourism in Belize City.

Things came to a head today when news went out that government officials would be meeting with executives from Norwegian Cruise Line at the BTB office in Belize City. 7News attempted to speak with Mike Singh, CEO of the Ministry of Trade, as he was about to enter that meeting.

It was our intention to confirm our reports and to clear up any misconceptions that was presented in our information, but Singh refused to entertain any interviews on the topic. Here’s how he responded when we approached him:

Daniel Ortiz
"I was told that you have a meeting with Norwegian Cruise Line in terms of an investment."

Mike Singh, CEO of the Ministry of Trade
"With who are you?"

Daniel Ortiz
"Channel 7"

Mike Singh
"Oh Okay. Sorry I didn't recognize you. But you know what I would prefer not commenting on it because we just ended discussion with them. So i'm not in a position to give a comment, unfortunately. Thank you"

Daniel Ortiz
"Ok then Sir"

We'll keep following up on this developing story, and try to catch up with all the relevant authorities on the topic.

Channel 7

Norwegian Cruise Line going to the south?

Is there a cruise ship port of call in the works for southern Belize? Talks of a massive tourism development project, to be spearheaded by Norwegian Cruise Line, has been bubbling below the surface for the past few weeks, despite strong objection from environmentalists, as well as residents of Placencia and surrounding communities. Crawl Caye, a small, coral-rimmed, mangrove island located within the South Water Caye Marine Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been chosen as the location for a deepwater docking facility in the Stann Creek District. The development, it is reported, will also see the construction of a world class resort and casino. In 2011, a report, commissioned by the Belize Tourism Board, presented by Seatone Consulting, indicated that such endeavor to introduce mass cruise tourism should not be undertaken in the area. That report succeeded public and private consultations with tourism stakeholders on the peninsula. This morning, a team of executives from Norwegian Cruise Line, accompanied by attorney Emil Arguelles, met with B.T.B. officials to discuss and finalize the development master plan. Several issues are being raised about the environmental impact the project would have on the protected area; including the transformation of the island from a rich marine ecosystem into a sandy beach. Of equal concern is that a green light from B.T.B. would also mean that the organization is contradicting its position on cruise tourism in the south, in spite of the findings of the 2011 report. News Five attempted to get a comment from Director of Tourism Laura Esquivel-Frampton, but we have been unsuccessful.

Channel 5

#462500 - 04/16/13 11:25 AM Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
People of Ambergris-this is your issue as much as for the people of Placencia. Placencia will need your solidarity to fend off this destructive type of tourism. Its not only a blight for Stann Creek and Toledo, it reflects heavily on the rest of the country and you will take the hit as well.
Belize based travel specialist

#462502 - 04/16/13 12:28 PM Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? [Re: Marty]
robvee Offline
What is the opinion of most locals about cruise ship passengers coming ashore ? If you listen to passengers they think BC is a dump , and they dont really get to see the real Belize. Is there an answer that would please all ie could there be multiple land destinations , like a choice of coming to AC Its big biz, cant tell it to go away

#462511 - 04/16/13 03:28 PM Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? [Re: Marty]
collyk Offline
This is what the Placencia Tour Operators Association had to say.

"Noting that its members voted this week to oppose cruise tourism, the association said cruise ship tourists would have a detrimental effect on its traditional overnight tourist business, which has “known economic benefits … outweighing possible economic benefits from cruise tourism.”
The association also argued mass tourism from cruise ships would result in adverse effects on the area’s fragile marine and inland environments such as coral reefs and fish and bird habitats.
The associated also cited the inability of Belize to enforce laws regulating cruise tourism; the inability of local tour operators to obtain affordable loans necessary to comply with cruise ship requirements such as size and quality of boats and vehicles and liability insurance; the lack of meaningful local control; the fact that local sites already are at or over carrying capacity without the ability to accommodate mass tourism numbers; and significantly fewer employment opportunities for Belizeans in cruise ship tourism than traditional overnight tourism.
The association also noted a lack of necessary infrastructure in southern Belize for mass cruise ship tourism, such as sewage treatment facilities; public restrooms; garbage collection and disposal; roads; and even water systems to provide drinking water in some locations.
“The cost of providing this infrastructure will run into the millions of dollars — money our governments don’t have – either nationally or locally," Placencia Standing Tall Against Cruise Ship Masses
Belize Wedding Photography

#462518 - 04/16/13 04:58 PM Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Now it is your issue. Your area rep and our Min of Tourism is backing the plan and there is discussion on whether to split some of the large cruise ship boats between Placencia and Ambergris Caye. But you're not in the discussion.
Belize based travel specialist

#462520 - 04/16/13 05:05 PM Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? [Re: Marty]
robvee Offline
Geez Talk about being between a rock and a hard place, the tourist income would be welcome but not the tourists !!!

#462529 - 04/16/13 08:18 PM Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? [Re: Marty]
SimonB Offline
Numerous studies have shown the negative impact and the hostage/cruise line relationship impact on countries. No one ever listens. The short term buck beats out the long term impact.

#462532 - 04/16/13 11:02 PM Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? [Re: Marty]
robvee Offline
There are countries or cities that take huge numbers of cruise liner tourists without any problems I know this area has a lot of sensitive ecological areas, but cant something be worked out to everyones satisfaction

#462533 - 04/16/13 11:16 PM Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? [Re: Marty]
seashell Offline
robvee, where are you getting your info?
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?

#462544 - 04/17/13 05:52 AM Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Marine Biologist: Why Crawl Caye Doesn’t Make Sense

Last night, 7News told you about the proposed development in the south by the cruise tourism company, Norwegian Cruise Line. The development plan includes building a cruise port on Crawl Caye, which is near Placencia. Crawl Caye is a privately owned island currently on sale on the internet.

But because Crawl Caye sits inside a UNESCO World Heritage site, the environmentalists believe that GOB should not entertain the proposal at all.

We asked Dr. Melanie McField about her expert opinion on the topic.

She started by explaining that her organization has been having the very same difficulties our newsroom has been having in trying confirm the report.

Dr. Melanie McField – Executive Director, Healty Reefs Initiative
"We've heard bits and pieces mostly from the stakeholders in the Placencia area the resorts and the BTIA down there. People are beginning to talk about a deal or proposal that is under way for Crawl Caye which is primarily a Mangrove island ringed by coral reef. I think three sides of the island is surrounded by Coral Reef and it's inside the Southwater Caye Marine Reserve which is also one of the World Heritage site. The Tourist Board has commissioned two reports. One was in response to a previous discussion about whether or not to have a cruise terminal in Placencia a few years ago and they commissioned a consulting firm that came down and talked to people. There were consultations up and down the coast and all the communities. With the result of that it was very clear that the communities don't want it.

The only thing that should be considered is pocket cruise - the smaller cruise ships and they mentioned that Commerce Bite was probably the best port to put them into, so a little further north. So I would say that the board should look at their own reports, there was that report and there was the sustainable tourism master plan that was a multi-million dollar plan that was just finished last year and that clearly says the same thing. Not in Placencia and not mass tourism in that area because the area is not ready for it."

McField told us that GOB must consider the potential damage to the Barrier Reef, which is very near to Crawl Caye. Those include the cruise Ships’ large Footprint, the fact that they need deep waters to maneuver, the need for dredging in mangrove areas - which is illegal - the siltation of the coral reefs when these ships berth, and the garbage waste that the cruise tourists will generate.

Channel 7

Hon Hulse Speaks On Crawl Caye

Earlier on in the newscast we had marine biologist Melanie McField’s comments and concerns about the proposal for a Cruise Port in Southern Belize. Well, during her interview, Minister in charge of a Cabinet Investment Committee, Godwin Hulse called us. He told us that all the fuss that’s being raised is premature – because nothing has been agreed upon and talks are at a very preliminary stage. He said that the Cabinet Committee did meet with Norwegian Executives, but that was simply for government to lay out the regulatory parameters of what would be required for tourism, environment and fisheries before an investment is made. He said it is now up to Norwegian to take all this information back and decide if they want to proceed. He agreed that there is a draft Memorandum Of Understanding but that is a quote, “non-starter” because they “are not at that stage at all.”

Channel 7

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