No Crawl Caye for Norwegian Cruise Line

A Cabinet subcommittee met today at the Belize Tourism Board to discuss the Norwegian Cruise Line’s tourism project for Crawl Caye which is within a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mega project has been met with strong opposition from stakeholders within the tourism industry including the Belize Tourism Industry Association, APAMO and Healthy Reefs. The hundred million dollar proposal would have possibly brought NCL cruise ships that can sustain two thousand visitors, well above the two hundred and fifty to three hundred and fifty, recommended under the Tourism Master Plan that was commissioned by the Belize Tourism Board. Minister Godwin Hulse, Minister Lisel Alamilla, and Minister Santi Castillo presided over a meeting that lasted from one-thirty to five o’clock this evening regarding the proposed development. Presentations were made by Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade and Chief Environmental Officer in the Department of Environment Martin Alegria. Other stakeholders included BELTRAIDE’s Executive Chairman Mike Singh, who has been a strong proponent for the project. But all indications tonight are that following this afternoon’s meeting, Cabinet will be informed on Tuesday that Crawl Caye is not the best option for Norwegian Cruise Line’s proposed development of a tourism facility and instead the subcommittee is recommending that the south should only be consider pocket cruise tourism. News Five camped out the afternoon to speak to Minister Hulse, who is the Chairman of the subcommittee; that is examining the hundred million dollars project. We also caught up with Minister Alamilla.

Jose Sanchez

“Mr. Hulse, we’ve been hearing that Crawl Caye is a bust. What’s the story on Norwegian Cruise Line after this meeting today?”

Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Labor

“Mister Sanchez, it is a good question, but the truth of matter is we have to take a full report to cabinet colleagues tomorrow before we can make a statement to the public. It would be absolutely unfair to cabinet for them to hear it on the radio tonight. And it is a lengthy discussion so it is not a one word answer at all.”

Jose Sanchez

“While you can’t report on it. The fact that the world heritage site, Crawl Caye is within it; would that have been a major part of whatever decision was made today?”

Godwin Hulse

“Any decision that’s made in this country, as I have said over and over, from the cabinet’s position; encompasses five clear parameters. One; that it is socially, economically acceptable and legally doable; that it brings revenue to government, it brings meaningful jobs to the country; that it doesn’t destroy the environment, nut in fact enhances it. If those criteria are met, we are good to go. And this is what cabinet will discuss tomorrow.”

Jose Sanchez

“Okay, but our sources are saying…”

Godwin Hulse

“Those are your sources man, I just di say my source.”

Jose Sanchez

“Yes, but so environment issues…what are the concerns…”

Godwin Hulse

“Cabinet will discuss it tomorrow.”

Jose Sanchez

“Miss Alamilla, I noticed that people from your department; fisheries department and also the department of the environment left very early to the end of the meeting. Does that show also that they were not on board since all environmental agencies—FECTAB, Cruise Tourism Ship, all of these other N.G.O.s who were saying it is a really bad idea?”

Lisel Alamilla

Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development

“They left early…well they made their presentations to the cabinet ministers and then they left because the discussion really was at our level after they had made their technical presentations.”

Jose Sanchez

“As someone from dealing with the environment, did you have environmental concerns being that it’s in the world heritage site?”

Lisel Alamilla

“Of course, of course that has to be a part of the discussion. Environment has to be an important part of the discussion. But I have to go Jose. I think Mister Hulse told you that tomorrow we will discuss this at cabinet and based on that then I think a public statement will be available.”

Jose Sanchez

“Are there any alternatives like Hatchet Caye for the Crawl Caye Project?”

Lisel Alamilla

“I have nothing else to say. Thank you Jose.”

Also in the country is Colin Murphy, NCL’s Vice President of Destination and Strategic Development. He was not present at the technical meeting, but he was in Placencia over the weekend meeting with stakeholders in the peninsula. When contacted by News Five, Murphy said he was in a meeting and was currently unavailable for comment. Now, while Crawl Caye for now may be off limits, it is known that their interests are shifting to Harvest Caye, which is nearby Crawl Caye, and for which EIAs have already been undertaken. 

Channel 5