Placencia says “no” to cruise tourism!
Tourism stakeholders of the Placencia Peninsula were recently consulted by the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), and in a report issued on Monday, August 2, the association revealed that the vast majority of respondents “strongly disagree” with having cruise tourism come to the area.
Wendy Lemus, chair of the Placencia chapter of the BTIA, said that members are concerned because they have heard that cruise tourism is coming to Placencia.
Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism, Belize Tourism Board (BTB), said when we contacted her for comment that she could not speak about the concerns. She advised that: “The BTB will support the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture in ensuring public consultation around this issue.”
A recent survey was completed by 58% of the paid-up members, said the BTIA’s report. “The purpose of the survey was to be specific and clear about the development direction for the destination.” Lemus said that they have over 100 members.
Elysia Dial, director of the Placencia Tourism Center, which houses the BTIA chapter’s headquarters, told Amandala that it appears that a cruise tourism expansion is headed to the South.
Sharing the sentiment of one respondent, the report noted that, “While it is known that small ‘niche’ cruise ships have been visiting the area for years, it is an absolute certainty that the cruise companies looking in this direction do not have boats that are what anyone in this area would consider small, manageable or what is visiting already.”
The attractions that have been developed over the years by our broad-based local industry are known for their low density, the report added. If cruise tourism were to target Placencia, it would drive up traffic substantially.
“These sites will experience a dramatic increase in density without the corresponding benefit to the very industry that developed them, if cruise tourism is allowed in this area,” the report continued.
Dial notes that Placencia is very popular for its prized beach, as well as water attractions – snorkeling, diving and fly fishing.
She notes that on a trip to Altun Ha, she observed hundreds of cruise tourists at the site. Placencia sites cannot sustain that traffic, the BTIA argues, noting that most of the market there target overnight tourists.
“These attractions - the cayes and surrounding waters, the beaches, the ruins, and the inland adventures, are exactly what make Placencia a perfect ‘do it all’ destination,” the BTIA comments.
It pleads with the Government of Belize to not sign any cruise tourism contract for the area without having a majority vote of consent from members in the Placencia area. It added that, “…BTIA strongly cautions for a full evaluation of the cons as well….”
Amandala understands that cruise tourist arrivals up to June 2010 were approaching the half-million mark, with 164 ship calls. This is an increase over last year’s traffic of 365,557 cruise ship passengers and 155 port calls.http://www.amandala.com.bz/index.php?id=10153