CAMPBELL’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY PLAN
FOR SAN PEDRO and CAYE CAULKER
San Pedro Free Zone
Promotion of San Pedro and Caye Caulker as Green Tourism Destinations
Duty Concessions on Fuel for Tour Operators and Hotels
Proportional Sharing of Funds Between Constituencies and Creation of Northern Maritime District.
Basil Jones Community Development
The vibrant economy of San Pedro and Caye Caulker has allowed us all to prosper and grow. About 4 years ago our tourism/construction based economy started to decline until now we are seeing extremely low levels of economic activity. This wide spread decline is affecting most of our homes and businesses with no relief in sight except hopes for a good season in a few months. Resurrection of the growing economy we once enjoyed is of the highest priority for us. I have devised a plan that will restore our economy and put us on a path of sustainable economic development.
Considering the fickle nature of the tourism trade we have all long recognized the desirability of moving away from a 100% tourism economy. Now it is even more apparent that we must develop another cornerstone for our economy and work to rebuild the crumbing building that is our tourism industry.
Through my experience and research it has become apparent that if we can attract small industries and light manufacturing facilities that are environmentally friendly to locate in San Pedro we can make lots of jobs that are not tourism related and provide work for our construction industry. In order to attract these businesses which will all be export businesses we need to establish a Free Zone on the Island to facilitate these companies in producing goods for export.
Some examples would be jewelry manufacturing, boat building, furniture manufacturing and many others. High on this list should be Call Centers. Our population is better educated and has better skill levels than other parts of the country due to our extended international exposure and many could easily work in something besides tourism or construction. Manufacturing usually peaks during the months before Christmas hiring additional help. Of course that is the time of the year we need jobs badly as it is off-season for tourism every year. There are many who potentially would be interested in locating their businesses here if we give them the chance and take our community responsibilities seriously.
This plan can work and make an impact in within a year of inception. If you will elect me to serve you as Area Representative I will work diligently to see this Free zone established and populated with appropriate businesses.
The revival of our tourism industry is of primary importance. I firmly believe that San Pedro and Caye Caulker should be promoted separately from the rest of the country. Our brother Island communities are unique and very appealing to a lot of people. I believe the promotion of “Belize as a Brand” has failed to properly represent San Pedro and Caye Caulker as well as other destinations by placing us all under one BTB blanket when in fact we are all very unique and offer widely varied experiences to the vacationing tourist.
We can enhance our attractiveness and uniqueness by becoming as much as possible “green destinations”. All our environmental protocols need to be enhanced and respected. Solid waste disposal is an issue that must be dealt with. Recycling projects must be started and maintained. We need to promote ourselves as green destinations and do everything we can to be environmental models, respecting our environment and only allowing environmentally friendly economically sustainable developments while we expand and enhance community services to keep pace with growth. Each of the trade shows should have a booth that is only for San Pedro and Caye Caulker and should have extensive information about both. This booth should always be staffed by residents of San Pedro and Caye Caulker as they can best represent us. I would think this strategy could be effective for other destinations as well.
The current BTB strategy is not working. It is also vey important that the government realize that over-night tourism is the number one life-blood of our industry. It would seem that cruise tourism as received much more attention from the government due primarily to lobbying and the correct balance should place more emphasis on promoting ecologically sound over-night tourism rather than cruise tourism. These proposals can and should be enacted immediately by the government.
Considering the huge impact the tourism industry has on foreign exchange and the economy in general I believe that Tour Operators and Off-shore Hotels should be exempted from paying duties on fuel that is purchased for their businesses. The cane farmers are all allowed to purchase duty free fuel. This has been the case since 1994 I believe. I think we are entitled to the same benefits as are afforded the cane farmers considering our contribution to the general economy. This could be enacted immediately and would have a very positive effect. The additional cost burden to businesses that was created by zero rating fuel while not dropping the price has affected many of our tourism businesses in a negative way. Duty free status and GST changes could be accomplished immediately and would certainly help the current situation.
We are also impacted negatively by not being recognized as a separate District of Belize. Our dependence on Belize City and Belmopan is an economic drain on both us and the government as they attempt to supply services from long distance and we make repeated frustrating trips to Belize and Belmopan for services which are more economically supplied in San Pedro. A Supreme Court is needed as well as a professionally staffed D.O.E. office and all the other services we don’t have including a Ministry of Works. Becoming a separate District was promised by Mr. Barrow during the last campaign but has never materialized. We need this to happen as part of our economic recovery program as it will cut our costs. The government could and should immediately start this process as they promised.
Additionally all constituencies should receive a proportional share of funds and projects available from the government. The money should be shared among the people in a fair way as opposed to the money being doled out politically. This is the root of many of our problems as the parties make promises they don’t keep in return for your vote. It is the chief weapon in the politics of fear. You feel you should vote for a particular party or you will get nothing and in the end you get nothing anyway. Our past two Reps have been successful in getting us palapas and playground equipment but have not addressed our roads, schools or medical facilities and they have had ample opportunity. By law we should be entitled to those things considering our input to the national economy and we should not be dependent on party politics to give us what we should be entitled to by natural law. These are things I will fight for as area rep if you will elect me.
As the population continues to grow it becomes obvious that we must develop the north of the Island. It has long been recognized that the interior of the island in the Basil Jones area is an excellent place for a new community to spring up. There has been a landing area there for many years and the land is higher and more protected from storms and not as environmentally sensitive as the low lying lands of San Pedro which must be reaching its carrying capacity sometime in the near future. A new community would relieve pressure for lots and would provide an area that is more suitable to golf courses and other types of larger developments, an International airport would certainly be worth considering. First priority is to provide a properly engineered road to the north so that development can begin in an orderly and environmentally friendly manner.
If you will elect me to be your Representative these items will form the basis for my plan to revitalize our economy and make it more sustainable and resistant to global fluctuations.
William (Mike) Campbell BRS