BTIA: Carnival contract is "Rape of patrimony

They represent more than four hundred tour guides, tour operators, and hoteliers and today, the Belize Tourism Industry Association is not happy. After taking a good look at the contract signed between the Carnival Corporation and the Government of Belize, the BTIA is seeing red. According to the organization's President, Steve Schulte, the clauses contained in the contract would lower the boom on Belize's tourism industry as we know it.

Steven Schulte, President, BTIA
“We have eight hundred million dollars invested in this industry. Our investments are continually threatened individually and collectively. As an example, look at the Carnival project, the greed of a few individuals has led them to sell our industry and our nation. They claim they will invest a hundred million in our country, but the plan only provides fro them to build their own pier, their own tourist village, their own shops, their own hotel and their own casino to compete with those businesses which are already established here. They are investing nothing in the infrastructure of our parks, our Maya sites, our marine reserves, our fisheries or even our agricultural produce. In fact the contract specifically states that they exempt from dealing with Belizean labour or contractors in the construction or operation of their business.”

“They are given the right to bring unlimited amount of passengers, but reduce the fees pays to support our protected areas from twenty percent of the head tax to one flat Belizean dollar; fifty cents U.S. They want to rape our patrimony and tell us it’s good for us.”

“Finally, they hold themselves apart from any future law or regulation we might pass to protect our country’s natural resources and our labours. The contract that Carnival has negotiated on the false promise of investing in this country, gives them every right to pillage our country and our industry while they drive out their own competition. How will the existing Tourist Village stay in business if they have to hire Belizean labour under Belizean law, while Carnival brings in the cheapest labour it can find? Why should we stand by and give them this advantage? I am aware that we have differences within our membership. We can and will work on those. We cannot afford to fight among ourselves. If your future and your family’s future is tied to Belize, you need to join BTIA today and support it with your active participation. We are in a struggle for the survival of tourism industry in this nation including sustainable cruise tourism. We have the power if we stand together.”

Schulte was speaking at the BTIA's nineteenth Annual General Meeting held this afternoon at the Princess Hotel and Casino.