PLACENCIA BTIA CHAPTER POSITION ON CRUISE TOURISM IN THAT DESTINATION
Placencia BTIA Development Survey
Findings Show Responding Members Not In Favor of Cruise Tourism
A recent survey - the first part of the Placencia chapter of BTIA proactive effort to work with its members, the local councils, residents, and visitors to the area - was completed by 58% of the paid up members. The purpose of the survey was to be specific and clear about the development direction for the destination.
Ideas addressed included what was wanted for future growth of the greater Placencia area which is currently developing rapidly. Many previous comments from residents regarding Tourism Development in the area have been very specific about what they don't want in the Placencia Area as opposed to what they would prefer and the survey hopes to address that.
The respondents who took part in the survey consisted of a wide representation of the entire peninsula: from large resort developments to small "Mom and Pop" businesses; from tourism industry workers and owners; from general membership including hotels, restaurants & bars; from tour operators to tour guides and gift shops; from the Peninsula-born, the long-term residents and the newcomers; all categories took part in the survey.
The survey tackled important areas such as: The Direction Our Destination Should Follow, Infrastructure and Zoning, Types of Tourism Visitors, Target Age Groups, Types of Development, Preparedness for Major Visitor Increase, Improvements Needed, Day and Nighttime Entertainment, Fish Farming, Recycling, Marketing and more.
While it was apparent that the membership would like to see an increase in the area's overnight guests - international, domestic and regional guests, as well as recreational boating guests (sail, motor or yacht), there was a very strong answer when asked about cruise ship visitors. The overwhelming majority of those surveyed voted "Strongly Disagree" when asked if they were in favor of Cruise Ship visitors.
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 main area of concern regarding the proposal for cruise ships coming to the Placencia Peninsula, and also including the Southern Cayes, is that the attractions that have been developed over the years by our broad based local industry are known for their low density. 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. These attractions - the cayes and surrounding waters, the beaches, the ruins, and the inland adventures are exactly what makes Placencia a perfect "do it all" destination.
In fact, there are so many questions our membership want answered in detail that they are requesting meetings, forums, and feedback, and an Absolute No on the signing of any contracts by BTB on behalf of the GOB, or allowing any such contract with any cruise operators unless a majority vote of our area finds strongly in favour of this type of development.
This is a major subject, possibly the largest type of direct impact that Placencia and its residents are yet to see. In a time when the economy is slumping the desire for instant cash and jobs, together with the initial generalization of all the pros, looks rosy. However BTIA strongly cautions for a full evaluation of the cons as well, and time to make sensible decisions.
The legacy of the Village, and the gift of our beautiful resources to future generations, depends on solid decisions being made now for our development. All of Placencia are in favour of preserving their heritage. We hope our PM, HON Dean Barrow, his Minister of Tourism, BTB and its CEO and new Director, examine carefully our point of view, and do not rush into agreements without imparting full facts of the likely impacts and obtaining majority consent of the area.
This statement has been issued by the Board of Directors of the Placencia Chapter of the BTIA. For further information on this and other Placencia area tourism related issues please contact our headquarters - Placencia Tourism Center, ph:523-4045 or email: [email protected]