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#402885 - 03/22/11 08:12 AM There’ll Be No Cruise Port In Placencia  
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Will there be a cruise tourism terminal in Placencia? In October the issue flared into public attention as community lobbyists on both side of the issue came forward to transpose the peninsula's debate into the national discourse. That was timed to coincide with a round of consultations by The Ministry of Tourism, and the Belize Tourism Board where the officials and technocrats were bombarded with the pro's and con's of the controversial proposal. But those weren't just talk shops or sounding off sessions, a group called Seatone consultants was hired to cull the collective wisdom of those meetings and compile a report representing the general concensus.

That report has been finalized and in summary it says, quote: "the government of Belize should not approve a new port of call, contract or agreement with cruise lines, developers or their affiliates for operations in the Placencia Peninsula." So there it is: with that death blow the proposal looks to be pretty much dead.

And, tonight - at this hour, representatives of the BTB and the ministry are in Placencia on the community Basketball Court presenting the report to the community.

They held a press conference this afternoon before they left and CEO Lindsey Garbutt told us that they are not going against the wisdom of the consultations:

Lindsey Garbutt, CEO BTB
"We believe that once you go to consultations you should respect the results of the consultation. So in saying that the consultation is not recommending any cruise ship tourism development in Placencia peninsula, we are prepare to respect that."

Jules Vasquez
"Is this the formal and final position of the government of Belize or do you foresee that it will be adopted by the government of Belize as its final position?"

Lindsey Garbutt, CEO BTB
"I think this government is known for accepting rational recommendations. I do not pretend to speak for the government of Belize in the way you are suggesting. The Prime Minister is the one that has that responsibility. But the results of these recommendations have been shared and I think he has said that he is going to respect the results of this recommendation as far as development of a cruise ship port in Placencia is concern."

Jules Vasquez
"Will there in your opinion be a port in the south sometime in the foreseeable future?"

Lindsey Garbutt, CEO BTB
"You know that i am from the south and I concur with you that there is a need for development in the south. I am just hoping that when we do it we will do it based on sound and careful plan development and analysis to the extent that it is done in a very organize way that brings benefit to a wide variety of stakeholders. So I am saying I think we need to do it. I just think we need to be careful and again like the director said it needs to be done within the context of the entire master plan that we are spending so much time and focus on."

Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism
"We can say that that master plan is coming with specific recommendations around that. So we would be happy to share with you and the wider community what those specifics are and later this year and the master plan will be complete and launch mid-year."

The consultations to share the findings go to Punta Gorda tomorrow night at the St. Peter Claver Parish hall and to Dangriga on Wednesday at the Father Phillip Marin Parish Hall….

You can find a link to the full report at…

Channel 7

#402895 - 03/22/11 08:29 AM Re: There’ll Be No Cruise Port In Placencia [Re: Marty]  
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B.T.B. to hold more consultations about proposed purported Placencia Port

We have been reporting since last week that a consulting firm has concluded that government should not proceed with cruise tourism in the south. And tonight, another round of public consultations are being held with residents of the Placencia Peninsula to discuss the results of the assessment, conducted by Seatone Consultants. In the executive summary of that report it is concluded that a vast majority of both residents and tourism stakeholders in that region are against cruise tourism. On Friday B.T.I.A.-Placencia chairman Stewart Krohn urged the Ministry of Tourism and government to explore alternatives other than niche tourism which would disrupt overnight arrivals in the area. Director of Tourism Seleni Matus told News Five today that the Ministry of Tourism is taking the recommendations into careful consideration.

Seleni Matus, Director of Tourism

Seleni Matus

“I think the findings have really very clearly stated what a very broad theme of consultants who really work closely with the communities have had to say about the project. I believe that the Government of Belize is taking that into consideration. We have assurances of the Prime Minister as well as the Cabinet to take into consideration the results coming out of the consultation process. The way forward now, looking forward I think some of the things that came out of the consultations are very important. They touch on issues that I think go way beyond what I think just Placencia has been experiencing and coincides with some of the high priorities that both the Ministry of Tourism and the B.T.B. have. For instance, the whole issue of how do we find a way to involve at a much greater level our Belizeans in the industry through ownership opportunities for instance and so what you have in Placencia and you have in other tourism destinations is that the leakage is high and so the participation of our local Belizeans might not be at the ideal level. And so the B.T.B. in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism will be working very intensely over the course of the next twelve months to look for very specific way to change that dynamic. For instance, we are looking at more affordable financing to be made available to our local Belizeans.”

Channel 5

#402896 - 03/22/11 08:30 AM Re: There’ll Be No Cruise Port In Placencia [Re: Marty]  
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Rich Wilson, Lead Consultant on Placencia Port Proposal, speaks

News Five also spoke with Rich Wilson, the consultant who led the discussions with both public and private stakeholders prior to formalizing his final report. Wilson used a two prong approach: confidential interviews as well as the public consultations, to make his recommendations. Residents of Placencia shared concerns that the destination, as a port of call, would fall into chaos.

Rich Wilson, Consultant

Rich Wilson

“The B.T.B. contacted me and they requested an impartial facilitator to basically facilitate a public consultation process and it was essentially two steps, the first step being that I came down to the region. I held confidential one on one interviews with a balance set of stakeholders in the industry representing tour operators, tour guides, restaurant owners, hotel owners, village council presidents, village council members and people on the streets. I talked to people on the streets all over as well and that gave people the opportunity in a confidential, comfortable environment to really open up about any hopes, concerns, viewpoints that they had on this issue of this proposed cruise development in the region. And then secondly, I was tasked to facilitate, again from an impartial perspective, three public consultation meetings, the first being in Placencia which was the center for the proposed cruise tourism development, the second being in Punta Gorda [and] the third being in Dangriga. And it was the results of those two components of this impartial facilitation, an on the ground situation assessment of really how people felt combined with public meetings where people had the opportunity to ask questions of the private developer who was making this proposal, ask questions of their government officials and I facilitated those meetings.”

Consultations are also scheduled for Punta Gorda on Tuesday night and Dangriga Town on Wednesday night.

Channel 5

#403013 - 03/23/11 08:36 AM Re: There’ll Be No Cruise Port In Placencia [Re: Marty]  
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The Belize Tourism Board is holding public meetings in the Placencia, Punta Gorda and Dangriga communities to present the findings of the Social viability assessment of cruise tourism in southern Belize. The assessment was conducted by Seatone Consultants and the recommendation was that government should not approve a port of call in Placencia. Chairperson of the Placencia Village Council Charles Leslie Junior says they are pleased with the way the matter was handled.

Charles Leslie Jr. – Chairman, Placencia Village Council

“We do applaud BTB for doing this consultation. It opened the door in my opinion for more positive dialogue between the people in Placencia especially the tourism stakeholders and the Belize Tourist Board to move forward from this point with a proper white paper on how tourism not only in Placencia but countrywide, how we can move forward in a more positive, sustainable way because right now for example the overnight tourism is taking a beating. There is plenty of problems and issues that is plaguing the overnight tourism product that we currently have in Belize and these issues need to be addressed before we even start thinking about acquiring or dealing with another tourism product such as cruise tourism.”

The assessment has also opened a space for dialogue among tourism stakeholders at the government at local levels. Leslie says that while the stakeholders in Placencia are strongly opposing the cruise port of call in the area, they are pro sustainable tourism and are organizing for future development in southern Belize in this direction.

Charles Leslie Jr. – Chairman, Placencia Village Council

“The Placencia Village Council, the Placencia BTIA Chapter, the Placencia Tour Guide Association, the Placencia Tour Operators Association along with some other nongovernmental organizations have formed a steering committee where we will develop a white paper. We have dubbed this white paper Placencia 2020, basically we will try and develop a vision of where Placencia need to be and how we will get there by 2020. As I was saying I wanted to thank the Belize Tourist Board for having these consultations in Placencia I think it opened a lot of room for dialogue and it also instigated in people in this area that there is need for dialogue and there is plenty of problem that exist especially with our current tourism product of overnight tourism that we need to get fixed before we can deal with any other kind of tourism.”

The BTB will continue the public meetings to present the findings of the assessment tonight in Punta Gorda and tomorrow night in Dangriga.


#403302 - 03/26/11 10:14 AM Re: There’ll Be No Cruise Port In Placencia [Re: Marty]  
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Cruise ship port project rejected by Placencia residents

On October 22, 2010, the Belize Tourism Board conducted a consultation in the village of Placencia to garner feedback from villagers and stakeholders on whether they would be receptive to the installation of a cruise ship port there, purportedly for the generation of more tourism activity.

The answer was an emphatic NO.

In keeping with their promise to adhere to the results of an assessment, the BTB announced that there would be no cruise tourism port in Placencia. The consultation was conducted by the principal and founder of Seatone Consultants, Rich Wilson.

Present at the “Southern Cruise Viability Report” press briefing on Monday, March 21, 2011, was the Director of BTB, Seleni Matus, Chief Executive Officer Lindsay Garbutt and consultant Rich Wilson.

Garbutt explained the position of BTB with regards to the results: “I think this government is known for accepting rational recommendations; the results of these recommendations have been shared and I think he [Prime Minister Dean Barrow] has said that he is going to respect the results of this recommendation as far as the development of a cruise ship port in Placencia is concerned.

“...the Ministry of Tourism and the BTB went into this consultation with an open mind. We said from the beginning that it was not a done deal, and that we would carefully, based on a known and respected consultant, go through a careful process and that we would respect whatever the result of that consultation is, so in saying that the consultation is not recommending any cruise ship development in Placencia Peninsula, we are prepared to respect that.”

According to Wilson, eighty to ninety percent of the consulted persons were Belizeans. Under the “Key findings of the situation assessment” section of the report, it is stated, “In October and November, 2010, Seatone Consultants conducted confidential situation assessment interviews with a balanced set of 28 stakeholders in Southern Belize.”

The report states that participants included hoteliers, restaurateurs, tour operators, village council chairmen and representatives, industry association presidents, tour guide association presidents and guides, protected area managers, non-governmental organizations, and representatives of indigenous culture, among others.

A total of three public consultation meetings on cruise tourism were conducted subsequent to the situation assessment, and, according to the consultants, these meetings yielded results that “confirmed key findings of the situation assessment and revealed significant concerns on a host of issues related to the potential introduction of cruise tourism in the south.” The report then went on to summarize that, “In Placencia – the center of the proposed development scheme — the meeting dynamic was dominated by negative perceptions of the cruise industry and mistrust of government actions leading up to the public consultation.”

The report also indicated that “meetings in Punta Gorda and Dangriga realized similar sentiments about the cruise industry,” but that there were also “more in-depth discussion between the public, government officials and private developers that focused on the need to promote economic growth that ensures direct benefits for local Belizeans. Of note, many individuals and groups throughout the region demonstrated outright opposition to cruise ships in the south, and articulated numerous reasons to support their skepticism and resistance.”

With the results dictating the BTB’s halt in the initiative for a southern port, the assessment portion of the report also sketched outlines of “limits of acceptable changes.” Matus explained what that was about:

“What that is,” Matus explained, “is that rather than come up with a carrying capacity, [it is recommended that we] sit with stakeholders that use this area or areas and determine what are those conditions that they feel can change over time gradually.

“So what that’s looking to do is to establish thresholds for change, acceptable change that the users of that area determine collectively. I think it is important to note that the National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan is the document the CEO mentioned [that] will definitely outline what the specific areas for development should be at a national level, so that plan is coming with very specific recommendations on what those areas are on a national level, that Government and private sector should focus its attention, in terms of development.”

The trio also repeated their presentation of the results in the southern town of Punta Gorda and Dangriga.


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