BTB Responds to FECTAB; Says They Should Look To The Industry’s Wellbeing

This morning after the press conference Director of Tourism Laura Esquivel Frampton responded to those bitter complaints hurled at the Tourism Board. She said there was no intentional exclusion, but the decision was made by a committee – on which BTB was only a member, as was Chukka Tours and Cruise Solutions both members of the FCCA. She said Chukka made the offer up front:

Laura Esquivel Frampton - Director of Tourism
"The fact is Chukka came to the table with 'this is what we want to do complimentary', this was open knowledge to everyone who sat on the committee that they were able to put int there two cents of what they were going to do. Let's also remember that the FCCA is an association, a membership based organization and so obviously the preference goes to members of the FCCA but there are other tour operators who are providing tours, there's even a submarine tour that is on the schedule for the Belize City tour."

Jules Vasquez
"So who had membership on that committee and why were FECTAB members not included?"

Laura Esquivel Frampton
"Primarily it was persons who already had contracts with the cruise lines, this means that they are already meeting certain minimum requirements in terms of handling cruise passengers as far as the cruise lines are concerned and in terms of what the cruise lines would also accept themselves for going on a tour. It was also in a way that all these persons are also - while they are not platinum members of the FCCA, they are members of the FCCA. Let's not forget this is a FCCA conference so whatever we in Belize do, yes we are the host country - we must do it in conjunction with the FCCA, certainly something like the event this morning can only cause doubt and question in the minds of those executive if Belize is a right choice. So with something like what happened this morning that just means that the BTB has to work even harder to continue to convince the cruise lines that Belize is a right choice. At the end of the day it really isn't about me or you, or the cruise lines -it is about bringing the numbers here in order to keep employment up. What the industry should be doing is focusing in welcoming these cruise executives and the platinum members to our country and showing what a great country we are for them to come to."

Tonight, Esquivel is in San Pedro for the opening of the PAMAC Cruise Conference. There are 80 delegates in Belize for the meeting, which will run through to Sunday. BTB has deployed 40 staff and over three hundred thousand dollars is being spent to organize the event. According to a release, “the principal purpose of FCCA’s PAMAC Platinum Event is to discuss trends, develop ideas, and promote existing cruise destinations.” But it’s also about networking – and Belize hopes to do a lot of that to push cruise tourism arrivals over the million-passenger mark next year. Esquivel outlined the importance:…

Laura Esquivel Frampton
"It brings persons who can share information with us and how we can grow persons to become platinum members. It also gives us and other platinum members exclusive access to cruise executives. This is an opportunity for the cruise executives to tell us how we can improve - it's also an opportunity for us to tell the cruise lines what we need from them."

Jules Vasquez
"Do you expect that the by-product or perhaps the direct product of this meeting would result in a greater number of tourism calls in Belize?"

Laura Esquivel Frampton
"Absolutely, and in fact our figures this year are projected for an increase over last year, even thought it will be a marginal increase but still a good increase. Next year, however we already have projections that are taking us over the million person coming into the country, so what we want to do of course is hold on to that and we want to encourage that and keep those projections to be realities next year and then to continue push it for other years. This is definitely a fantastic opportunity for Belize, we have been told by the FCCA that this PAMAC conference is being attended the most amount of cruise executives ever to this kind of conference."

Meeting will be held in San Pedro tomorrow – and then they come to Belize City on Friday and Saturday for tours. Yesterday, FECTAB wrote to the President of the FCCA, Michelle Paige asking her to cancel or postpone the meeting – that request, we gather, was ignored.

With over 600,000 cruise visitors in 2012, Belize is ranked 7th out of 21 Caribbean Cruise Destinations.

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