Nine tourists from Chetumal who arrived in San Pedro aboard the San Pedro Water Jets Express, a ferry service operated by Giovanni Marin, were left stranded in San Pedro last week because the rival taxi service, the San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi, operated by Marin, refused to take them on to Caye Caulker.
Giovanni Marin, who was obliged to provide accommodations for the stranded tourists, was so infuriated that he fired off a letter to the Prime Minister. He has written also to the Belize Tourist Board and the Ministry of Transport.
In his complaint he claims that the San Pedro Belize Express was the last ferryboat to leave San Pedro on April 8 and that it had the space to accommodate the nine tourists.
San Pedro Water Jets Express leaves San Pedro at 8 o'clock each morning for Chetumal and returns, leaving Chetumal at 4:45 p.m.
San Pedro Belize Express leaves San Pedro at 6 in the evening to connect with Caye Caulker on the way to Belize City. The nine tourists in San Pedro wanted to go on to visit Caye Caulker, but they were refused passage on the San Pedro- Belize Express.
The reason given for the refusal, Giovanni Marin says, is that the visitors had not come across on the San Pedro-Belize Express.
Several calls made by this newspaper to the San Pedro Belize Express were ignored, indicating that ferry-operator Marin did not want to discuss the matter.
Before leaving Chetumal, Giovanni Marin had assured the visitors that they would have no problem visiting Caye Caulker as well as San Pedro.
In his letter to the Belize Tourist Board Marin charged that the refusal by the San Pedro-Belize Express to accept paying passengers was an abuse of authority.
"I am amazed that these things can happen in a country whose major industry is tourism," he exclaimed.
Marin further stated that he tried to get the San Pedro police to intervene, but the police replied that a sea captain has the right to refuse passage to anyone he chooses. Moreover the police said, the problem was a civil matter and the police could not get involved.
"That was ludicrous because the schedules are posted publicly, and anyone from anywhere should be able to buy a ticket and ride on any form of public transport anywhere in this country," Giovanni Marin said.
He added that this is the third time that passengers from a rival boat have been turned away.
"These are abuses in the transportation service and it is disheartening.... and at a time that we need every single dollar that we can muster to keep our economy viable," Marin said., adding: "It is my hope that something will be done this time to address this serious problem."