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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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Belize is in a recession, but one thing that has proven to be recession proof is cruise tourism. Sure, overnight tourism has taken a sharp downturn in 2009, falling by as much as 5.2%, but cruise tourism went up by almost 6% compared to 2008. And tomorrow, what’s known as the cruise tourism high season will start out encouragingly with the arrival of three cruise ships.

They are the Liberty of the Seas, which caries over four thousand three hundred passengers, the Ryndam which caries one thousand two hundred passengers and the Carnival Valor which carries three thousand five hundred passengers. That’s over nine thousand passengers heading to Belize tomorrow. It’s right on time for the tourism industry and long time tour guide and operator Tom Greenwood told us what it means for his industry.

Tom Greenwood, Tour Guide & Operator
“This is the beginning of the high season in which we have seen in past years an approximation of between nine to ten thousand people usually on a Wednesday and Thursday. The cruise ship days are basically Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday because of their unique schedules, leaving the United States and getting back. So we see the beginning of the high season and it comes not a moment too soon because the low season has been extremely low. A lot more people are involved in the business. I have seen many more tour operators come on line, many more guides of course come on line, in fact a lot more guides because the industry does need guides. So the cruise industry has now gone into high season.”

Jules Vasquez,
“Are we expecting a stronger high season than we saw last year?”

Tom Greenwood,
“I believe so and the introduction of Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas which as you know has over 4,000 means the entry of bigger cruise ships into Belize. The United States is seeing a rebound in its economy and this is good news because we are aware that the United States is kingpin where the economic factor is concerned and so that is news for us indeed.

I hope the money that flows down now during the high season will go into the pockets and the hands of so many people who do need them at what we call the base level and we can only pray Jules that does happen, it needs to happen.”

It is estimated that 597,000 cruise visitors arrived in 2008 down 4.3% from the previous year. So far for 2009 from January through to the end up September, arrivals are up by 7.7%.

Channel 7

Joined: May 2000
Posts: 3,281
"cruise tourism went up by almost 6% compared to 2008."
That's because cruises are being hugely discounted now. But the cruisers bring nothing to the local economy, except a few connected people in Bz City.

Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 3,054
There might be an economic lesson there for Belize hoteliers. When you reduce prices significantly, you get more guests!

--Lan Sluder

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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The cruise tourism season kicked into high gear today. It got off to a promising start because for the first time in a long while, three cruise ships docked off the coast of Belize City on a Wednesday. But more than that, Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Sea, Holland America’s Ryndham, and Carnival’s Valor brought with them 9 thousand tourists. So you can understand why the mood was a bit festive in the tourism village today. In fact, we even heard music! Except it sounded like the blues....Keith Swift has the story.

Keith Swift Reporting,
The 9,000 thousand tourists had the Fort Street Tourism Village buzzing and bustling. Tour guides and vendors say it’s been a bad year and they hope the boatloads of tourists seen filing off catamarans are a sign of good things to come.

Herbert Eagan, Tour Operator
“Right now we’ve experienced bad days earlier so we want to see what the jump will be like. Today is one of the first days that we got three ships in and we hope it will be better than last year.”

Keith Swift,
“Last year’s season wasn’t good?”

Herbert Eagan,
“Well every year it is just declining and we can see a decline, you see how the world market is so we can say that things are just going down.”

Sana Mortis, Wet Lizards
“It’s finally here. We’ve been in the slow season for a minute now and the high season will be a big relief to a lot of us because a lot of people really depend on it right and I think it’s a good thing – finally it’s here.”

But don’t tell that to the vendors in the flea market outside the Tourism Village. They are normally the low cost alternative to the more expensive stores inside the Tourism Village. The outside vendors are known for these homemade trinkets and jewellery. Donatilo Chun is an artist turned vendor. Even though 9,000 tourists came - today like most days was slow for Chun. That is because unlike inside the village, the flea market wasn’t bustling -forcing vendors to hustle.

Gary Baltazar who has been performing in the flea market for 7 years was on the frontline.

Gary Baltazar, Performer
“When I first did this I was making a lot of money but now I am not making a lot of money like before and I think that it will happen again.”

Keith Swift,
“How has it been going so far today?”

Gary Baltazar,
“Today well to be honest with you, it’s a little bit slow even though it is just three ships out there but it is a little bit slow but I still won’t give up.”

Keith Swift,
“You expected more people to be here?”

Gary Baltazar,
“I think that there should be more people yes because like I said before there are three ships out and barely people are walking around. Most people aren’t making money right now and doing business, only the people inside because most people are inside.”

Donatilo Chun, Vendor
“I am hoping that the people that come in the cruise lines would buy more. I believe something should happen like in the cruise ships. I think we as Belizean artists, we are the citizens and we are voters. I think somebody in the government concerning tourism should promote us on cruise ships.”

Randolph Andrewin, Vendor
“I hope that it will get better because right now everybody just struggling right now and some people make it sometimes and some people don’t make it too good. For me I am struggling right now so this season I expect it to maybe get a little better but I don’t know.”

Keith Swift,
“9,000 tourists are here today. Are you feeling it, are you seeing increased business?”

Randolph Andrewin,
“Well so far it looks good but it is all about if they spend.”

And that is why vendors don’t need a big cruise day like today to look good –they need it to be good.

Liberty of the Seas is the largest cruise ship that has dropped anchor in Belize. It carries close to five thousand guests and will only visit Belize every other Wednesday. Tomorrow the Norwegian Spirit and Carnival Legend will dock. The next big cruise day will be next Wednesday when four ships are scheduled to visit.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 7
We discovered C.C. three years ago on a HAL cruise. It was actually the tour operator that took us to C.C. for lunch.

That was the day we fell for Belize. The people, food and atmosphere have brought us back. We are staying in C.C. for a week over the holidays. Because of flights, it is costing the same as a cruise though. Getting to Belize is not cheap which is unfortunate. Saying that, we can't wait to get down there and personally I'd much rather leave my vacation $ in Belize than on a ship.

I hope that the Belize tourism takes advantage of the cruise folk and more vacationers return for an extended stay after getting such a great taste of paradise.

Just a note however, cruiselines have priority tour operators. They are often more expensive and the cruiseline makes a profit on their backs. Other local operators are often more flexible and personally more enjoyable. There is a need for a better central booking system to get the 'other' operators more face time. Cruise critic is a good place to start as they are unbiased.

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