There are plans to set up the first river tubing tour in Red Bank - it would be part of the attraction for the Norwegian Cruise Line Port at Harvest Caye. It is called the Maya Red Bank Tourism Project and owner of H20 Tierra Ltd. Tom Wilson says it will uplift the village and provide employment. Wilson says the village council has approved the project and many of the villagers have welcomed it but others are wary of the project and the manner in which it is being handled in the village. Villager and Tour Guide Basilio Mes told us today that there are several factors that need to be discussed.
Basilio Mes, Tour Guide
"I did a Scarlet Macaw tour in the area and I encountered some survey line on the hill side where the Scarlet Macaw comes to feed and it goes all the way to the river. So, I started to inquire about it in the village and eventually I was told that there was some sort of a private company that was surveying or cutting survey lines in the area and that it was going to be use for mass cruise tourism in the area. Well, there are talks now that they are going to be doing river tubing in the area. The tour is going to be started somewhere around Roseville. The tour is going to start all the way upstream and it going to end up exactly where the Scarlet Macaw comes to feed. They come to feed from December to March. If this was to be approved, if this was supposed to go through and ATVs are allowed in the area, this would definitely in no doubt would chase away the Scarlet Macaws from the area."
"We all know that Scarlet Macaws are endangered and there are reports right now of just approximately about 200 birds left in the area and from what I saw this year, I only counted about 60 birds in the area. So, what that means basically is that I think that we are leading to extinction of Scarlet Macaws in Belize and it would mean that a lot of tour guides from surrounding villages like Placencia, won't be able to go and see these magnificent birds anymore. I think that basically what that would bring to Red Bank if this was to be approved."
We also spoke to Tom Wilson today and he says that firstly, Mes isn't even from the village nor does he have anything to do with H2O Tierra. He adds that the river tubing tour won't affect or disturb the feeding grounds for the Scarlett Macaws and that the survey lines and markers that Mes referred to are NOT theirs nor do they have anything to do with H20 Tierra's plans or operations. The project is only in the consultation stage but Mes says that more consultation must be done. In response to that, Wilson says the necessary consultation is being done and that he has met with council members on several occasions. We also spoke with the Chairman of the village council Juan Acal and he said that they have welcomed the project and another meeting with Wilson and the villagers is set for April 19. We will keep following the story.