Mike Singh was on Open Your Eyes this A.M. and saying this Crawl Caye cruise development is going to cabinet - no consult with village, just straight to cabinet.

That's right - next Tuesday. They're going to make this look like a completely ex-pat thing - and say that all the tour guides, tour operators, and Belizeans in Placencia are in favor. They're also going to try to isolate Placencia Village and treat us as an anomaly.

DEAL POINTS UNDER THE CURRENT PROPOSALS

• NCL would get:
o Exemptions from stamp taxes, customs duties and general tax holidays/waivers for a period of 30 years, with two 15-year-extensions that can be exercised by the cruise line, at its sole discretion – negotiations with GOB – they just get these extensions of they want them;
o An exclusive 30-year concession as a cruise port of entry at multiple locations in the Stann Creek District in southern Belize, plus two 15-year- extensions that can be exercised by the cruise line, at its sole discretion – no permission from GOB needed for these extensions – all NCL needs to do is say they want to extend them; and
o All port fees for the calls of all cruise ships in southern Belize, regardless of which cruise line pays the port fees;
o The right to hire 25% non-Belizeans to work in their cruise operations – no requirement that Belizeans must be hired in any particular type of job – no requirement for Belizeans to have management positions, for example;

• The Government of Belize would have to:
o Construct all roads and infrastructure for cruise tours (such as sewage treatment, restrooms, garbage disposal and buildings;
o Actively help NCL get all required licenses, permits and permissions including mining and dredging, environmental approvals, trade licenses, construction permits, Central Bank foreign investor permits, foreign exchange dealer permits, tour guide and tendering ferry permits, port related permits, hotel licenses, labor/immigration permits, liquor license and casino license; and
o Allow all cruise lines using the authorized cruise port of entry in southern Belize to keep casinos and shops open while in port
Note: this is currently not allowed in Belize
• The cruise line has to:
o Invest not less than US$50 million in the project in the Stann Creek District;
o Transfer technical expertise, knowledge and training opportunities to Belizean employees.

Other Issues:
• Crawl Caye is within the Southwater Caye Marine Reserve, which is included in the larger World Heritage Site, and the caye is near the heart of some of Belize’s most pristine patchreefs and shallow coral/mangrove reef complex, and some of the most biologically diverse marine areas in Belize. In fact, the World Heritage Commission specifically called out the Southwater Marine Reserve as an especially important marine area, hosting sea life found nowhere else in the Caribbean. In addition, Crawl Caye is surrounded by corals. Yet, NCL wants permission to cut and fill almost the entire 50 acre caye of mangrove plus dredge an additional 20 acres of seabed to create more land.
• Ships are mega ships, not pocket cruise ships – meaning a minimum of 2000 passengers (plus 800-1000 crew members), often 4000 or more passengers and crew. Mega ships would enter Belizean waters at English Caye and cruise down the inner channel to Crawl Caye, exiting either the same way or south of Hunting Caye. This creates huge implications for pollution, navigation errors, loss of power, oil spills and dumping - all of which have become common with the cruise ships in the last 5 years.
• With only two ships of 4000 people each at the caye, what are the effects of so many divers/ snorkelers/ swimmers/ fishers/wave runners and water skiers on the reefs and marine life?
• What will be the effect of this many day-trippers on small inland sites such as Lubaantun, Nim Li Punit, Monkey River – and very pristine sites such as Cockscsomb?
• By having a caye as a port, NCL can eliminate ALL independent tour operators, and thus control every aspect of its operations in southern Belize, including food, tours, entertainment and transportation. NCL can simply deny access to any independents who might want to sell tours, crafts or food to cruise ship tourists.
Please also remember that the Belize government, through the BTB, commissioned Tourism & Leisure, Europraxis Consulting, to develop a sustainable development plan, National Sustainable Master Tourism Plan for Belize 2030, which was released in June 2010. (A copy of the executive summary of the plan is available at http://www.pcsdbelize.org/sustainable-tourism.pdf )

This Sustainable Master Tourism Plan specifically states that “pocket cruise tourism is the only acceptable form of cruise tourism in South Eastern Coast Belize” (the area in which the Stann Creek District is located) and only in areas of new development in the northern portion of this section of the Belize coast.”

The Sustainable Master Tourism Plan further mandates that

“[t]his distinctive destination will be hosting a chain of mid to low density sun & beach resorts, a chain of charming villages such as Placencia, Hopkins and Dangriga along with pristine and attractive beaches. This area will host mid-high end markets drawn by sun & beach, marine life and rainforest motivations; as well as it will become the main hub for nautical tourism development and the first to attract the pocket cruise market.

For the far southern portion of Belize (including its coast), the plan stipulates that the Southern Belize area

. . . will become highly attractive to hard adventure travelers and ecotravelers for its unspoiled nature allure, conceptualized adventure travel sports activities and facilities, community tourism attractions. In a second order it will develop cultural tourism heritage and living culture while integrating local rural communities. In another level it will be a sun & beach and nautical tourism destination for those attracted to more secluded areas.

WILL THE BENEFIT TO BELIZE OUTWEIGH THE COSTS OF INFRASTRUCTURE AND DAMAGE TO THE ENVIRONMENT? WILL AN ECONOMIC IMPACT ASSESSMENT BE DONE AS WELL AS AN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT?

MEDIA CONTACTS

Government

• Honorable Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize:
o Email: [email protected]

• Honorable Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
o Email: [email protected]

• Honorable Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forests, Fisheries and Sustainable Development
o Email: [email protected]

Media:

• Channel 5:
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone: 223-4936
• Channel 7:
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone: 223-5589
• CTV 3:
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone: 670-2216 or 322-2216
• KREM Radio
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone: 222-4220
• Plus TV
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone: 822-2536
• PGTV
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone: 610-0973, 678-8309, 672-9999
• Love FM
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone: 203-2098 or 203-0528
• Love Television
o Text: 630-1289
o Phone: 203-2098 or 203-0528
• Wave Radio
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone: 202-5361 or 202-5360
• Integrity Radio
o Email: [email protected]
• PowerFM
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone: 223-3311
• Amandala Newspaper
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone: 202-4476 or 202-4477 or 202-4703
• Reporter Newspaper
o Email: [email protected] and [email protected]
o Phone: 227-2503 or 227-1767
• San Pedro Sun
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone: 226-2070
• San Pedro Daily
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone:
• Star Newspaper
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone:
• Capital Weekly
o Email: [email protected]
o Phone: 802-1284