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#504697 - 05/29/15 06:12 PM Stubborn impasse over Stake Bank
Marty Offline
For the past two months, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow has been traveling back and forth to Miami to try to broker a truce between stakeholders in the cruise sector, to permit the US$100 million Stake Bank port to proceed without litigation.

However, no compromise has been reached, and Barrow proposes to press ahead with legislation which he hopes would at least put to bed the dispute over how $14 million in head taxes, paid by tourists, will be shared by those who control the market here.

Currently, the Fort Street Tourism Village (FSTV), part-owned by Royal Caribbean, is the only port receiving cruise tourists under an exclusive concession granted by the Government of Belize. All the other cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Lines, the dominant one on the Belize market, use the FSTV port. However, there is a move afoot to establish a new docking facility at Stake Bank, off the coast of Belize City. Stake Bank is the brainchild of Michael Feinstein, who years ago sold his stake in FSTV, and who wants to now build a port which he would control.

“We are at a point now where I need to step back and take a break to reflect on the situation… and then come again!” Barrow told us.

He said that while he does not want to encourage any further delay with Stake Bank, trying to reach a settlement may not be as urgent as he had first feared.

Barrow said that when he made his first visit to Miami in April, he met with executives of Royal Caribbean and was able to hear from them at the highest level. The indication is that they would keep coming to Belize for at least the next 5 to 10 years, he explained.

Barrow met again this month with Royal Caribbean, and he returned from Miami on May 14. Barrow told us that the Friday after he returned from Miami, he and executives of the Belize Tourism Board – BTB chairman Carla Barnett and Director of Tourism Karen Bevans – met with Michael Feinstein and Feinstein got back to him the following Tuesday to say that he had spoken with Royal Caribbean and it was a “no go.”

For their part, though, Royal Caribbean and the FSTV group are still very much insisting on their rights under the agreements with the Government of Belize, helped by Michael Feinstein, Barrow pointed out.

He said that if Stake Bank were to be built and Royal Caribbean is not a major player, and if the head tax is given to Stake Bank, Royal Caribbean would argue that it would constitute a breach of their contract with the Government and they would sue.

Cruise tourists pay US$7 head tax, and US$4 goes to the FSTV, US$1.60 to the Belize Tourism Board and US$1.40 to the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT), while US$0.33 is extracted from each of these amounts as a contribution to the Belize City Council for use of the city as the port of entry.

According to Barrow, FSTV is banking on a series of agreements that had been signed by the former Said Musa administration, and possibly a ffourth. The Prime Minister told us, though, that based on the legal advice he has received, he believes that the Government can argue against the view that the Government must pay the head tax to FSTV regardless of whether cruise passengers use their facility or not, while on the face of it, he admits that FSTV does have a point.

Barrow said that Carnival, which has the lion’s share of the passengers who come to Belize, has no major issues with the Stake Bank proposition. However, they have expressed concerns about things such as the quality of tendering cruise passengers for onshore tours, as well as the concentration of crime in the Belize City area.

For his part, Barrow expressed reservations over the financing of the Stake Bank project. He told us that three local banks, First Caribbean, Heritage Bank and the Belize Bank, have indicated an interest but have not made a firm commitment, and the prospective financing does not include the cost of building the causeway to Belize City.

He added that his conversation with one of the three banks has convinced him that the banks will not finance the project unless they have iron-clad guarantees as to the viability of the project, such as a guarantee on the amount of passengers and a dedicated revenue stream, such as the head tax, to service the debt.

Carnival has made it clear that they will make no such commitment that they will be locked into Belize for any period of time, and Royal Caribbean could remain committed for the next 5 to 10 years, but Royal Caribbean can only guarantee a flow of cruise passengers for the Stake Bank port if they are a significant partner in the new project—a proposition that Feinstein continues to resist.

“We see their effort to acquire the island as doomsday for us. We would never be allowed on the island,” Tom Greenwood, president of the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize (FECTAB), told Amandala.

According to Greenwood, FECTAB represents 23 associations, unions, groups and businesses, including the General Tour Guide Association, which has a membership of over 400 drawn from the Belize, Cayo, Orange Walk and Corozal Districts.

Greenwood said that they have a contract with Stake Bank, assuring them a space on the island, and he fears that if Royal Caribbean assumes control of the project, local tour operators would be boxed out, because the contract would not be transferred along with the island.

Greenwood said that they had asked the Prime Minister to tell them once and for all if he can help to get things going. He said that he will try to get an audience with the Prime Minister next week or after the case comes up in court.

Barrow had indicated that his attempt to broker a deal with the parties was intended to avert litigation on the matter. Michael Feinstein has asked the court for a declaration that the granting of the head tax to the FSTV is unconstitutional.

For his part, Barrow told us that he can’t allow for the head tax arrangement to be scuttled, because FSTV will be shut down if there is no head tax. So, the solution, he says, is to imminently pass a law to confirm and validate the head tax retrospectively.

What if the court case comes up before he can get to Parliament? Barrow told us that as long as the judge does not render a decision in the matter, the status quo will remain, and that decision would remain binding until the legislature can introduce the new law.

Parliament has already passed the Stake Banks Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill, but has not yet brought it into effect.

Barrow told us that he will ask Crown Counsel, Nigel Hawke, to seek an adjournment from the Supreme Court, to indicate to the court that the Government has a bill that it plans to take to Parliament at the end of June or the first Friday in July.

Barrow said that he has already shared a draft of the bill with Royal Caribbean and the FSTV group, but he has made it clear that the law will not state that the head tax will be theirs forever, whether or not passengers disembark at their port.


#505340 - 06/19/15 10:12 AM Re: Stubborn impasse over Stake Bank [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Lots at Stake In Stake Bank Case

For months now, developer Mike Feinstein has been in court against the owners of the Fort Street Tourism Village. He's being trying to broach a resolution with village owners Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Diamonds International which would see his Stakebank Cruise port move forward without any lawsuits. All attempts have failed, and so now, both sides have commenced litigation before Justice Courtney Abel.

As viewers may know already, Feinstein is challenging the legality of the head tax that is collected from each cruise tourist, which is then shared between the owners of FSTV, and BTB on behalf of the Government of Belize. His issue is that all tax revenues must be paid into the Government's Consolidated Revenue Fund, but in this case, most of it goes to the Tourism Village. FSTV has countersued saying that if this head tax is indeed illegal, then both the Government and Mike Feinstein, who originally helped to craft this agreement, should pay them an award of damages.

The Government's position is that this "head tax" is not really a tax; it's more of a fee that is charged to each cruise passenger entering Belize.

They also point out that before Feinstein sold the Tourism Village to the 2 current owners, he was also benefiting from this revenue collection which he shared in.

And while all that is the foreground issue, in the background is the larger issue: the Barrow Government has already passed the Stake Banks Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill, but it cannot bring it into effect as a law because FSTV owners would sue them for breach of contract. That's because after Feinstein sold the tourism village to Royal Caribbean and Diamonds International in the mid 2000’s, the Musa Administration extended the contract long beyond the original term.

In that contract, and its renewal, the FSTV was given exclusive rights to be the sole port of entry for the Belize District. That ensured that the Tourism Village would remain financially viable, so that the investors could recoup, and probably triple their investment. But, it also had the effect of keeping direct competition from another cruise port from taking root.

In an affidavit, Feinstein asserted that he found out later that the Musa Government signed an amendment to the extended contract. In that amendment, the Government guaranteed if and when Stakebank comes online, FSTV will be able to get a portion of the head-tax for all passengers who passes through that new facility, even though it is an official port of entry. Also, according to Feinstein, this amendment sought to restrict the amount of merchandise stall space to only 10,000 square feet. Additionally, the FSTV was given permission to build 2 berthing facilities as part of the Stakebank project.

Feinstein says that he could not agree to these terms because they would cripple the financial viability of the project, and that’s the reason he has turned to the courts.

His attorney, Andrew Marshalleck finally got a chance to present their case to Justice Courtney Abel, and after 5 hours of legal back and forth, the case was adjourned for the day. We spoke with Mike Feinstein, who was present for the hearing, and here’s what he told us:

Daniel Ortiz

"What’s your impression of day 1 of this case?"

Mike Feinstein – Developer, Stakebank Project

"I think it went very well for us. Our arguments were very positive. On the government's side, they are kind of baffling around. My agreement ends next year, 2016. All the extensions really, I was not a part of them. Just recently I found out about the 2028 deal which is to accommodate Carnival, who never showed up basically. We're saying that head tax is not legal. We're saying that these agreements are not legal and it all falls in place. The head tax is not legal in any agreement. I think the arguments will run well, we will find out maybe on the 24th."

Daniel Ortiz

"But sir, the judge made a very important point which was brought up by the government's attorney that you benefited from this same arrangement, now complaining against."

Mike Feinstein

"As the judge said, it's not legal now, it's not legal then."

Daniel Ortiz

"So you accept that it wasn't proper then either?"

Mike Feinstein

"I'm saying that head tax wasn't legal now, it wasn't legal then."


"If it is found to be illegal that you could also been on the hook for paying back some of these funds, it that a concern to you?"

Mike Feinstein

"Absolutely not. I'm telling you that - I'm not saying collecting that head tax is illegal, it's illegal for them to be distributing it; for them to be collecting and distributing it."

Daniel Ortiz

"Sir, isn't the distribution done similarly as it was done when you were there as the owner of the tourism village?"

Mike Feinstein

"That's right, but at that time I wasn't legally advised or any illegality at the time anyways."

Andrew Marshalleck, SC – Attorney for Mike Feinstein

"It is primarily the restriction we are concern with has primarily to do with the new facility being designated at port of entry and following on that how head taxes are to be distributed for people passing through that facility. What they sought to do was to say that every manifested passenger passing through the new facility would still have to pass through the village so that they still get the head tax.”

The case continues tomorrow where Deputy Solicitor General Nigel Hawke will get to finish up the Government’s defence, and then Rodwell Williams will get an opportunity to state FSTV’s case.

Channel 7

#508445 - 10/21/15 11:12 AM Re: Stubborn impasse over Stake Bank [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The FSTV Monopoly Is OVER. What Next?

The legal battle between the Feinstein Group, the Government, and the Fort Point Tourism Village is over, and, now, the landscape of cruise tourism in the Belize District is set to change - in a big way. Justice Courtney Abel today finally made a decision in case, which has been ongoing for months now. He struck down the FSTV's monopoly in the Belize District, thus paving the way for Stake Bank.

You might remember how it all started: Developer Mike Feinstein sought to challenge the monopoly that the FSTV has over cruise tourism in Belize City by claiming that the head tax collected from each passenger, and the way it is shared up, is unlawful. While this case was taking place, however, the Barrow Administration amended the Cruise Ship Passenger Tax Act, and it blocked 3 of Feinstein's grounds for challenging the legality.

That only left 2 other very important matters. As we told you, the former Musa Government agreed in an extension contract with the owners of FSTV that if and when the Stake Bank Project comes online, FSTV will be able to get a portion of the head tax collected from passengers moving through Stake Bank. That meant that even though FSTV was not part of the effort and business of moving those passengers into Belize City, they would still be paid. Feinstein claimed in court that this and other restrictions would cripple the financial viability of his project, and so he could not agree to these terms that the Government signed.

Next, as we told you, the Barrow Administration has already passed the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill. They haven't brought it into effect as a law, however, because they expect that the FSTV owners would sue them for breach of contract. That could mean an award of millions of dollars in damages. So, to handle that, the Barrow Government was trying to convince Mike Feinstein to grant them an indemnity against any such lawsuits. Effectively, GOB was asking them to take the force of the blow form any lawsuit for them to bring the Stakebank law into effect.

The court has ruled on both of those issues, and right after the written judgements were handed down, we were outside to speak with the attorneys from both cruise interests. Here's what they have to say:

Rodwell Williams, SC - attorney for FSTV
"There was a claim for 5 declarations and he granted 2 declarations out of 5. He refused the 3 and granted 2 declarations. So a kind of like split decisions I would want to think and then there were cost orders. I don't know what's to answer the question that you posed. I don't know the answer, but I would hope and expect that negotiations could now earnestly begin. But I don't have an answer as to the implication for that particular project."

Andrew Marshalleck, SC - Attorney for Feinstein Group
"They wanted an indemnity in respect of possible claims by FSTV alleging breach of these clauses. These clauses include. 1) Which says that FSTV to be the only port of entry for cruise ship passengers in the Belize District. That has been found to be unlawful. That falls away. That obstacle doesn't exist anymore and the second one having to do with head taxes was that the head taxes payable in respect to passengers visiting Stake Bank, would still be shared with FSTV. Again, that has fallen away, because the act did not go that far. The act expressly provides for head taxes to be collected and share between FSTV and the government only in respect to those passengers that are tendered to the village. You see the fundamental difference. There has been some gain for our prospective and we say that it clears the way now for the last remaining terms of investment agreement to be settled. You will have competing businesses and it's the customer who gets to choose which they want to use. We think that given a choice between docking and tendering, the choice will be obvious."

So, the monopoly that FSTV has been enjoying over the cruise tourism is set to be broken. Both sides are expected to go back to the negotiating table to try to work out a compromise where they might co-exist together.

But, there is still a wrinkle, the Government must bring the Stakebank Law into effect which might not happen since FSTV may sue them, and they have no indemnity from Mike Feinstein. It will be interesting to see how this issue further develops because even though this is a private dispute, it's in the public realm where hundreds of jobs from independent tour operators and businesspersons hang in the balance.

Channel 7

#510120 - 12/23/15 10:54 AM Re: Stubborn impasse over Stake Bank [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Stake That To The Bank

The Stake Bank Project: as we reported in October, the legal battle between the Feinstein Group, the Government, and the Fort Street Tourism Village is over - and Feinstein won - which should put Stake Bank on the fast track. Except we haven't heard much new about the project and so we asked Andrade about it today and he told us they are in dire need of this docking facility - which is somewhere on the event horizon:

Valdemar Andrade - Director, Destination Planning & Cruise, BTB
"As far as I know there is no closure and I don't know the exact state of play of Stake Bank until all the relevant documents and everything are in place then I will be able to say where Stake Bank is going. That docking facility is needed as I've always say and I continue to say. There is definitely a need for a docking facility, because of the size of the ships that are coming in the future. The way the cruise industry is moving, we do have a need for Belize to have a docking facility to be able to go to oasis class ships or beyond oasis class ships and so I would say that there is a need and even an urgency at this time to ensure that we have a port in place."

"How does it create jobs? Will the tendering system be affected?"

Valdemar Andrade
"Until the details of how that is planned, I wouldn't be able to tell you reliably at all that if the tendering system would be affected or not."

Are Independent Operators Being Crowded Out At FSTV?

Last night we told you about the concerns of the independent tour operators at Fort Street Tourism Village. Now, this is certainly not the first time we've heard discontent around and about the Fort Street Tourism Village.

Earlier this year the freelance tour operators outside the gates were complaining that they are not getting a fair share of the business and that the system is set up to deliberately cut them out of the picture. Well, the independent tour operators on the inside - are the ones now saying that management is trying to run them out of business through various strategies, including increasing their passenger insurance requirement. Our reports say that now the FSTV Management is requiring a major increase in insurance coverage for passengers; from two hundred thousand per guest, to 2 million! That would send insurance premiums through the roof - and that kind of insurance police would have to be purchased from international vendors in US dollars - it's not available locally.

Today, the BTB's Director of Cruise and Regional Initiatives Valdemar Andrade told us he is not aware of any insurance increase and that the BTB wouldn't implement of approve any regulation that would alienate these operators.

Valdemar Andrade - Director, Destination Planning & Cruise, BTB
"I haven't seen anything certainly nothing from FCCA requiring anybody to have more insurance. I know that for people who are contracted, yes there is a 2 million dollar requirement who are contracted by the ships. That's a requirement from the ships that they have to have ship-line insurance agent that is able to do that and what that insurance offers is liability coverage. And it also offer global coverage, which means that they can get that cost covered anywhere in the world and so that is why that insurance is put in place. But that is only for contracted operators as far as I know. As far as I know, no, not for independent. BTB will always protect the independent operators. The independent operators have always been a part of the cruise industry in Belize. They also ensure that there is a variety of tour offerings for the country and anything that will adversely affect the independent operators we would certainly not support and so if there is any of those aspects that anybody is going to put on the ground - 1) it require notice, due notice because the independent operators now have their current coverage and because its high season, most of them have renewed at this point in time and so it require due notice. It also require us to ensure that they are not - how can you require somebody to have added insurance and then say that you are going to move them back or move them out because they would not be in the frontline to make business to pay that insurance coverage and the other cost that they have. The state of play for the cruise industry is their revenues that the ship looks on. One of the key revenues that the ship looks on is tour operations and so they will always look at how they can increase their business. Remember they are paying to come here. They pay a tax, they pay different port fees to be in the country which adds up to millions and millions of dollars in taxes for us and also they are bringing their customers and so they are always looking to see how they can best positioned themselves. We always end up with a 60/40 split or 50/50 split in tours independent and cruise and the cruise lines. And so we try to manage that appropriately, because we think that both need to win. But yes, we wouldn't favor one over the other at any one point in time."

And tomorrow two Carnival cruise ships are making a call on Belize, that's when the same independent operators expect that they'll be pushed back away from the dock so that they can't make any sales pitch to pre-booked passengers.

Channel 7

What’s the Future of Stake Bank?

There is another proposed docking facility which has gone under the radar. It is at Stake Bank located just seven miles off the coast of Belize City.   For over a decade, the Fort Street Tourism Village has been the sole port of entry for cruise tourists entering into the country. The Feinstein Group, which is the investor in the-multimillion-dollar Stake Bank project, challenged an agreement between FSTV and the Government of Belize that prevented the construction of the facility, which essentially will offer services similar to those in the tourism village. In October of this year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Feinstein Group paving the way for Stake Bank even though there are still some legal hurdles to cross.  We asked Director Andrade about the fate of FSTV, the tendering system and the new port at Stake Bank. While he was unaware of the status of the Stake Bank, Andrade maintains that the docking port is needed for the future of the cruise tourism industry in central Belize.

Valdemar Andrade

Valdemar Andrade, Dir., Cruise Tourism & Destination Planning

“As far as I know, there is no closure and I don’t know the exact state of play of Stake Bank until all the relevant documents and everything are in place. Then will I be able to say where Stake Bank is going. That docking facility is needed as I have always said and I continue to say. There is definitely a need for a docking facility because of the size of the ships that are coming in the future. The way the cruise industry is moving, we do have a need for Belize to have a docking facility to be able to go to Oasis-class ships or beyond Oasis-class ships. And so I will say that there is a need and even an urgency at this time to ensure that we have a port in place.”

Duane Moody

“How does it create jobs? Will the tendering system be affected?”

Valdemar Andrade

“Until the details of how that is planned, I wouldn’t be able to tell you reliably at all if the tendering system will be affected or not.”

Channel 5

#510147 - 12/24/15 10:55 AM Re: Stubborn impasse over Stake Bank [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

FSTV Puts Down The Screws Independent Operators

For the past two nights we’ve been telling you about the plight of the independent operators inside the Fort Street Tourism Village. They say the foreign management of the FSTV is trying to push them out of the village – and proof of that came today. Despite pretensions to the opposite by the Belize Tourism Board – the operators inside the village have been presented with a lease renewal, which includes a requirement for the 2 million dollar per passenger insurance.

Bottom line? If they sign the lease to hold their spot inside the village – they also have to agree to purchase the 2 million dollar per passenger coverage – which comes at a steep price which many of the small operators say they can hardly afford – and especially not right after 7 months of low season. But that’s the hard line being laid down by the village management – while the tourism board keeps up its routine of whistling past the graveyard. We are told the lease has to be signed before Christmas.

Channel 7

#510510 - 01/09/16 11:12 AM Re: Stubborn impasse over Stake Bank [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Stake Bank Sayonara?

Tonight, the cruise future for the Belize District is more unclear than ever - and that's because the Stake Bank project - which was thought to be a sure thing just a few months ago - is once again on the back burner - and the developer Mike Feinstein says he expects that it will stay there.

And that's because government is now looking at another project - one that will be based at the Port of Belize. Now, if that sounds familiar, it is. In 2004, then Port owner Luke Espat and carnival Cruise Line broke ground for a port at that very spot. It never worked out, but what you see here now on the map - the part that juts out - is the product of that idea. That was supposed to be the apron for two ships which would pull up directly to the terminal - right there at the southeast end of Port Loyola. But, the project was effectively abandoned for a number of reasons. Well, now Government wants to resuscitate it, and with guess who? None other than Michael Ashcroft. That's right, reliable reports tell us that Ashcroft and the Government are looking at a possible partnership in the venture, which the Prime Minister mentioned only in passing in his New Year's address.

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"The Supreme Court ruling on Belize City port exclusivity, the lack there of, clears the way for us to greenlight a new old capitol docking facility. The new cruise port will be built by the private sector in some form of partnership with government."

Deliberately vague, and that is probably because at this point, the only thing government knows is that there's a number of options - and Stake Bank, is reportedly not at the top of the list, reportedly because Government does not feel that island has an optimal location. Still, millions would have to be invested in dredging at the Port of Belize to create a channel deep enough for Oasis Class vessels, which are over 200 feet high. The Ashcroft Alliance - which already owns the Port of Belize - is reportedly interested in developing such a project, but government is also looking at other investors who are interested in a public-private project.

And while there is nothing standing in the way of the Stake Bank project, developer Mike Feinstein told us that with government now looking to partner in another project, it effectively cripples his - and, with the landscape as it is, he doesn't see it happening.

Of course, the subtext to all this is the question of who gets the head tax - those millions of dollars that are paid per head for every cruise visitor who arrives in Belizean waters. It's the easiest money in the world, and The Fort Street Tourism Village had the ultimate deal in this regard: the Musa Administration made it so that they would collect, even if the passengers landed at Stake Bank. The Supreme Court recently found that to be unlawful.

Channel 7

#510600 - 01/13/16 10:47 AM Re: Stubborn impasse over Stake Bank [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

GOB Says Feinstein Wanted Exclusivity For Stake Bank

On Friday, we told you about the Stake Bank Project - that developer Mike Feinstein was giving up on - after it became clear in a meeting with the Prime Minister that government would not give him the kind of assurances that he needed to attract finance and move forward. Well, today government disclosed that what Feinstein wants is exclusivity - and it's not going to give that. A cabinet release which is about as common as a hurricane in January - was issued today sating plainly, quote, "Cabinet cannot entertain Mr. Feinstein's request for exclusivity. Mr. Feinstein has stated that if he cannot be granted exclusivity, he may have to withdraw the project."

It adds, quote, "Cabinet…is reviewing numerous studies that have been done over the past two decades which identifies the Port of Belize as a viable facility. The government has recently received expressions of interest to develop the Port of Belize from two companies so far. One is the company that currently controls the receivership, Ports Investment Limited, and Hertzog International Incorporated." End quote. We note that Ports Investment Limited is the Ashcroft Alliance.

At a function this evening, we asked the Prime Minister about it:...

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I made it plain to Mr. Feinstein that we are perfectly happy to green light his project and to bring the law that we had passed into effect. But he says that that's not enough. That we must give him a 25 years exclusive arrangement. Government is not prepared to do that for all sorts of reasons including a fact that he just won 6 months or so ago, a ruling from the Supreme Court saying that exclusivity is illegal and cannot stand. I failed to see how he can then come back to us and say give me an exclusive. So, that's where that is. We know that Luke Espat and Carnival were going to build at Port Loyola and Carnival had done it studies and knew that Port Loyola option was feasible. Mr. Feinstein tell me that was then and now because the ships have grown bigger, he is positive that Port Loyola is not an option. Well, we need to hear that from the experts that are going to be retained by those that have an interest in Port Loyola. So for us its wait and see."

Government's release today underscores that the Supreme Court recently ruled that exclusivity in the Fort Street Tourism Village agreement were unlawful.

Channel 7

Feinstein throws in the towel on US$100 mil Stake Bank project

The US$100 million mega-tourism enterprise which was supposed to include a cruise port and an expansive shopping zone offshore Belize City, could be abandoned after a short meeting between the developer, Michael Feinstein, and Prime Minister Dean Barrow on Friday.

Amandala readers will recall that the Feinstein project had gotten rare bipartisan support when a bill to grant exemptions on the payment of taxes and duties was taken to Parliament early 2014.

“All the Prime Minister was to do was to sign the statutory instrument and we would be set to go…” Feinstein told us today.

“The only way I would revisit [the Stake Bank project], is if Government guarantees the loan,” he said.

After the latest revelation that the Government has been entertaining other potential cruise port investors, Feinstein said that he has no guarantee that others won’t be brought in to the sector, which would make it hard for him to secure the returns he needs to have on the investment to make it viable.

“The fact that Prime Minister could actually entertain that when I am about to start a project makes it impossible. It makes no business sense to go down that road,” the developer told us.

Feinstein said that he requested the meeting with Barrow when he heard rumors floating around about a new cruise port development in the City, reportedly at Port of Belize.

A cruise port at the same location for which ground was broken under the Musa administration, in a partnership between Port of Belize and Carnival Cruise Lines, had been subsequently abandoned.

Feinstein said that when he took representatives of Royal Caribbean to see the Southside port, they were concerned about its location, near the city’s sewer system.

Feinstein also said that there was a study done by a European company which warned that if such a development were to be pursued at Port of Belize, “Port Loyola would sink…”

Feinstein said that Barrow has been in talks with British billionaire Michael Ashcroft about pursuing the development at Port of Belize – which is being held under receivership by an Ashcroft bank, British Caribbean Bank of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

He added that Chukka (the tour company out of Jamaica) has a group that is also being entertained, and there is a third company reportedly waiting in the wings.

Arturo “Tux” Vasquez, receiver of the Port of Belize, told Amandala today that if such a deal were struck with Port of Belize—a development which he welcomes—the partnership of a cruise line would be needed and the only possible partner operating in Belize is Royal Caribbean.

“We do need a docking facility, and I still believe this [Port of Belize] is the best option. We’ve discussed it with Government before, but the only way it would work is as a public-private partnership,” he said.

He added that Prime Minister Barrow had alluded to such a partnership in his New Year’s Day speech. Vasquez said that Barrow’s comments indicate that there is some serious interest by the Government.

In those remarks, Barrow had said that, “…the Supreme Court ruling on Belize City Port exclusivity—or lack thereof—clears the way for us to greenlight a new, Old Capital alongside docking facility.”

Barrow added that, “The new cruise port will be built by the private sector in some form of partnership with Government…” but did not identify the private sector partners with whom the Government could pursue such an enterprise.

Vasquez told Amandala that, “If Belize does not get a [new] facility soon, there will be problems in the industry,” since, he said, Belize cannot continue tendering cruise tourists from ship to shore.

Vasquez told us that he had not been in talks with the Government about such a partnership, but “you never know what the conversations are at a higher pay grade…”



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Chaa Creek is an award-winning luxury Belize Resort, rated as one of the worlds best Eco Lodges. We are a pioneer in adventure travel to Belize since 1981!
White Sands Dive Shop - 5 Star PADI Dive Facility - Daily diving, SCUBA instruction and Snorkeling
Caribbean Inspired All Natural Condiments & Spice Blends, Over 100 are Gluten Free!
We manage a variety of homes, apartments, condos and commercial properties here on Ambergris Caye. Our minimum lease on ALL properties is six months.
Conch Shell Inn: All rooms are right on the beach in the heart of San Pedro, so within walking distance to anything and everything!!
Lil’ Alphonse has snorkel equipment to fit anyone as well as Marine Park Tickets and flotation devices to assist those not as experienced.
Coastal Xpress offers a daily scheduled ferry run to most resorts, restaurants and private piers on the island of Anbergris Caye. We also offer  private and charter water taxi service.
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