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#445806 - 09/04/12 06:33 AM FECTAB Fires Up Again & Throws Charges At Chukka  
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Almost exactly two years ago - the name Chukka Tours was thrust into the headlines when Tom Greenwood, Yohnnie Rosado and their organization FECTAB lambasted the Jamaican company for exercising an unfair advantage in the local market.

After weeks of sustained, intense animosity and bad mouthing - things died down - and for the past two years, Chukka has been quietly doing its business - emerging as the leading tour operator in a crowded local landscape. And their competitors have come to accept it - that, after all, is the nature of foreign investment.

But now the locals have drawn another line in the sand - this time they say Chukka has gone too far with by erecting a rappelling platform at the Jaguar Paw site.

FECTAB held a press conference today to explain what they call the perils of this planned attraction.

Tom Greenwood led the charge:..

Jules Vasquez reporting
This is the chunk of stone that Greenwood says he picked up at Nohoch Chen - which we know as Jaguar Paw. He told the gathering of tour guides and operators that the stone tumbled from this cliff face when Chukka was installing a platform for rappelling.

Tom Greenwood
"What alerted us is we got to the cave site and I heard this pneumatic drill and then when I watch the cave entrance and I looked up again - and I sat there for a while then all of a sudden - oh God!."

"You have to see it. You are sitting down here that day and this is there and you see this stone going bounce, bounce picking up speed and when it hits that water...whoosh. I can just translate that water going whoosh into red. I got scared."

"While the drilling was taking place this is what I picked up from the river. I knew where it fell because there were other pieces there and this was fresh. This fell from 180 feet. Now folks, that's a stone - 180 feet coming down on somebody's head. You think that helmet will save you. It will push the head and helmet down in your lungs."

The issue is that the much used cave tubing stream passes beneath the cliff face - and Greenwood says that it is a recipe for disaster:

Tom Greenwood
"Now, déjà vu - my God we are not only floating through the place but every time we go there we have to look up to see if anything is falling. What part of somebody can be killed do the authorities don't understand?"

And that is what he says triggered this campaign to have that rappelling platform removed - as a matter of urgency:

Tom Greenwood
"What part of stone on top of somebody's head below or a camera or a helmet do you not understand? You just decided that that has to be moved."

But they have no confidence in the regulatory body - which is NICH - because they believe that NICH gives Chukka preferential treatment on what is supposed to be a level playing field:

David Almendarez, "Cave Tubing R Us"
"This is supposed to be a national park. This is supposed to be an archaeological site. This is supposed to be somewhere pristine and somewhere that has equal access to everybody. However, over the past years and especially over the past few weeks we notice the playing field is created to be unleveled and the people standing to the bottom of the barrel are we the Belizean tour operators."

And that is the other issue: that Nohoch chen is an archeological site:

David Almendarez, "Cave Tubing R Us"
"The national park is being turn into an amusement park where foreign entities are allowed to come and do whatever they want to do in our national park. Nowhere else in the world this is done but in Belize. Those cave systems I have been taught by Dr. Jaime Awe when we attended their NICH courses are millions of years old. So if they are millions of years old, there are so much cherish, how can we have foreign entities rappelling off the front of it and how come no Belizean are allowed to rappel off of that. I am against the platform. I am against the fact that they are using this as if this is their own personal stuff."

Ricardo Perazo - Tour Guide
"We are not against Chukka right. We want to make this clear. The thing that we are against is them build the platform there and then destroy what is our patrimony. They have to understand that that is an archaeological site. Then where is NICH? What are they doing? They are not interested in culture and history. That is the real thing."

Yohnny Rosado -
"I have ATVs jungle tour and I would love for NICH to send me a letter tomorrow; 'Mr. Rosado, you can send your ATVs through the archaeological site.' No I will not do it and they told me if you want to do anything, find your land and I did find my land. Matters if Chukka is from here or not from here, no company should have the rights to do business on archaeological grounds."

Tom Greenwood
"Why does this happen here? Why is it that seemingly anybody can come here and do whatever they want?"

And now those operators and guides say they will do what they must to stop them:

Tom Greenwood
"We are putting the whole kaboozel together and send it to the insurance companies that insure the ships guests. You what's going to happen, they are going to stop that in its tracks. We will do whatever is necessary to take that thing down from there before some unfortunate human being or beings get that on top of their helmets and on their shoulder or whatever."

And so, if you follow the argument - the greatest, moist urgent issue risk is this rock and others like it which may fall - but - the thing is Chukka says no such rock fell or could fall - and moreover why would that International company let anything fall on their own guests who are tubing in the river below?:

Tom Greenwood
"Jules, if I am a big international company, green globe responsibility and all that. Why would I build a facility over an entrance way to cave 180 feet in the air that sees about 100,000 people floating in including thousands of their own guests."

Channel 7

#445807 - 09/04/12 06:34 AM Re: FECTAB Fires Up Again & Throws Charges At Chukka [Re: Marty]  
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Chukka Says Claims Wholly Inaccurate

And so if it makes no sense - and if it puts the safety of their own guests at risk, why would Chukka do it? We tried to get the logic from Valerie Woods, the country manager for Chukka who said it would be crazy for them to put anyone's life at risk.

Here are her comments:...

Valerie Woods
"It would be almost insane on our part to compromise our brand and compromise the business that we have with cruise and with hotels to put in place a tour that compromises the safety standards and put people at risk. We would never do such a thing."

"I've heard the accusation of rocks falling I believe or boulders. The rock drill that's used is one that goes in and takes the piece of rock out - just sufficiently the size of the required width needed to put the anchoring pole for the platform. This goes into the drill - this goes into the rock and it takes the rock out and it secures the rock and therefore you unscrew it afterwards and these are pieces of rock, it secures it and so our technical personnel has to unscrew and put it in a little bucket and we carry it down. So it's boulders and rocks falling because of drilling? - it's almost an impractical, impossible thing to do using the proper equipment."

Jules Vasquez
"But Mr. Greenwood appeared at the press conference with a large chunk of churt."

Valerie Woods
"Which you saw him got the minute it fell? Of course, right?"

Jules Vasquez
"I don't want to think that a misrepresentation so blatant is being made."

Valerie Woods
"Because others haven't been made such as we do not comply to regulations. Jules, it's not even worth almost the time and energy spent. It's an inaccurate statement. So you show up at a conference with a piece of rock. I can show up this afternoon if you like with some too. Anybody can, it's an inaccurate statement."

Diego Alvarez, Chukka Operations Manager - Belize
"The drill bit that we have is two inches wide and it has like a special hole inside that holds whatever it drill. At the center it has an external drill point where it holds on whatever we drill like I was telling you. When we pull that out we have to pull that piece of rock and put it in a bucket."

Jules Vasquez
"How large is that piece of rock?"

Diego Alvarez, Chukka Operations Manager - Belize
"Two inch wide by two inch long."

Valerie Woods
"What I think has happen is these inaccurate statements by Mr. Greenwood has done some damage to the industry and to the destination. We have fielded no less than 3 calls already from lines. They are lines that we have contracts with wanting to know if - should they be gearing up for another experience like last year where it was not a friendly welcoming experience to say the lease coming to Belize. That is what is most regrettable here that inaccurate statements are being allowed to be taken as fact and causing damage not just to the destination but the actual system in place because I believe that Mr. Greenwood is suggesting that the very austerity - that he respects is also not complying to their own rules and regulations."

"You say that enough times in a small community Jules, you have created damage."

Jules Vasquez
"Would you say that you all enjoy a special relationship with NICH?"

Valerie Woods
"Absolutely not."

Jules Vasquez
"Would you say that you had an unfair advantage in being allowed to entertain a rappelling tour such as this?"

Valerie Woods
"We have no better advantage than any other investor/operator, bring the idea. Why would I admit to that? I do not have an unfair advantage."

Jules Vasquez
"That's the specific allegation that NICH compromise on its standards for an archaeological park in allowing you all to erect a structure and those others would not have gotten such an opportunity."

Valerie Woods
"Any operator, any investor, any company operating in any part of Belize I am sure that approach any of the authority responsible for the management of the area on any proposal they may or may not have. It is not something that is uncommon for any park national, archaeological or otherwise to have tourism or recreational activity in it - that needs to be guided by the regulations."

"Dr. Awe and the folks over at NICH will clearly show you at any day what the regulations are for any of their archaeological reserves and parks. If we do not comply with it they will not grant us a permit and it is a permit by the way that we have to pay for."

Jules Vasquez
"How would you respond to the criticism that you all are turning an archaeological park into an amusement park."

Valerie Woods
"It's a low volume tour. I guess how would you respond to what occurs every day at the archaeological park - which is thousands of people by Mr. Greenwood own admission going through it. Only maximum of 48 per call we believe can do this tour. It's a very low volume tour."

"We had an idea for a tour and an addition to a tour to complement what we offer. We think it's a very good idea and guess what clients out there actually like it. That is business - having said that, it's a low volume tour by the nature of the cruise meaning that we can only allot a minimum amount of spaces to go down. So any one ship that comes in we are projecting - if we get 48 persons which are like a full bus load - that would be great. It's a hard tour."

And one more important difference of opinion, which did not make it into the interview, is the location of the cave tube route and the location of the rappel.

Woods points out and illustrated to us that the rappel site is squarely 60 feet away from where the cave tubing guests pass. With that distance she argues there is no chance of anything falling on those tubing below.

Channel 7

#445845 - 09/04/12 12:41 PM Re: FECTAB Fires Up Again & Throws Charges At Chukka [Re: Marty]  
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from a friend....

If you were a Maya like me, you would understand how these sites are very sacred and what they mean to us. I want to thank all those (Maya or not Maya) who understand what this means to us. However, one company (A JAMAICAN COMPANY) CHUKKA CARIBBEAN had no respect for any of our Archeological site at Caves Branch and came into our country and started to deface our sacred site. This is a Platform build right above Cave #3 at Caves Branch. Before you could have sit on the sand bar looking at this breath taking scenery and now, a Big Rappelling Platform is built by this foreign company. My question is, WHO ON MOTHER EARTH GAVE THEM THE PERMISSION TO DEFACE OUR SECRED SITE. Bad enough thousands of Cruise Ship Passengers float through this cave every week. I am not fighting or anything, just that we the Mayas of Southern Belize took this as an insult. That is really sad about the Maya site being desecrated as it is. Hopefully that can be rectified in the favor of the Mayan people. That is truly a sacrilege and an insult to all the Mayas of Belize. This cave was used by the Mayas over a thousand years ago, mainly for sacrifices and religious ceremonies. We need to ask them to bring down this platform. Have some respect for the site.

#445915 - 09/05/12 08:38 AM Re: FECTAB Fires Up Again & Throws Charges At Chukka [Re: Marty]  
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NICH Archaeologist says no damage by rappelling at Caves Branch

As we reported on Monday night, the Federation of Cruise Tourism Association of Belize (FECTAB) is saying that when Chukka Belize erected a rappelling platform at an archeological site, it defiled the site and is subsequently endangering the lives of visitors. In the tourism industry, that is a serious charge on any tour operator; one which Chukka quickly moved to dispel. Chukka has received support from Jaime Awe of the National Institute of Culture and History who says that the platform has no impact on the site. Engineers of the platform are also defending its integrity and News Five’s Isani Cayetano has an update to this story.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Tension between the Federation of Cruise Tourism Association of Belize (FECTAB) and Chukka persists amidst strong objections to the assembly of a metal deck high above Cave Three at Nohoch Che’en. The popular inland destination, which has undergone several nominal changes over the past few years, now includes an additional feature that has angered tour guides, who operate in the caves below. The contention revolves around this platform, now open to visitors who book tours with Chukka and are interested in descending the adjacent limestone façade by rope.

Valerie Woods

Valerie Woods, Country-Manager, Chukka

“It really was the brainchild of the guys in the office coming together and thinking of yet another way to excite the clients and provide something interesting and different but as a combination tour.”

The union of cave-tubing and rappelling undoubtedly enhances the Jaguar Paw experience, however, seasoned guide Yohhny Rosado, who also frequents the archaeological site, believes that the latter is a looming hazard to the safety of his guests. Rappelling, he says, is only a preview of coming attractions.

Yohhny Rosado

Yohhny Rosado, Tour Operator,

“There is no rappelling without zip lining and there is no zip lining without rappelling, they are like married. So we believe that the rappelling down through the cave is only the beginning to do zip lining through the cave.”

Beyond the possible introduction of cables within the cavernous system is the question of the platform’s structural integrity. At a hundred and fifty feet tall there is concern among members of FECTAB that lives will surely be lost should the deck plummet from its perch.

Darren Hreniuk

According to Darren Hreniuk, president and chief operations officer at TGO Designs, the firm contracted to install the suspended deck, “the technical system is an adaptation of techniques used in High Angle Rescue and employed in fire departments and rescue associations around the world and all equipment used is approved by the American National Fire Protection Association and the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation.

The installation, says Dr. Jaime Awe, Director of the Institute of Archaeology, had negligible impact on Cave Three. That affirmation, nonetheless, does little for Tom Greenwood, who firmly believes that the laws which govern archaeological sites should prohibit such practice.

Tom Greenwood

Tom Greenwood, President, FECTAB

“I think everybody in this room understands the laws covering an archaeological site. If somebody can bring Chukka to me and show me where Chukka has gone to another archaeological site, maybe the one in Peru, maybe one in Mexico, maybe one in Guatemala and put up a rappelling platform, I think somebody would be spending some jail time, trust me. Why does this happen here? Why is it that seemingly anybody can come here and do whatever they want?”

While the undertaking has been green lighted by the National Institute of Culture and History, Valerie Woods, Chukka’s country-manager, says that they are adhering to all guidelines set by the relevant authorities.

Valerie Woods

“What I can speak to you is what we approached NICH with, what we approached government authorities with, the regulations we have to comply with. There are strict guidelines and that we meet them each and every single time and we continue to do so respecting safety standards and environmental practices. We would never jeopardize the brand of Chukka by putting any Belizean or visitor in harm’s way.”

Hreniuk, in his response to the concerns raised, says, “the descent is also designed to divert the rappelling participants away from the area directly under the platform so as to mitigate the possibility of anything falling on them from above. The whole system was designed to lessen environmental impact by reducing the footprint of participants actually coming in contact with the environment.

Valerie Woods

“We have to go through all inspections by the authorities, by the lines and we go through them rigorously. We have to be certified by the companies who train our system operators each and every year. There is no such thing as us having an advantage; we just have to pay a lot of money in the investment of our guides and for the very same access incidentally for Jaguar Paw.”

While the construction of a rappelling platform is taking center stage, nothing seems to be done about the unwanted artwork that litters the caves’ walls since it is also argued that the site should, in no way, shape or form, be desecrated by operators or visitors alike. Again, we’ve tried to get a comment from NICH but that interview was declined. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

NICH is expected to issue an official release on Wednesday. Rappelling is also being done at other archaeological sites such as Actun Tunichil Muknal in Teakettle Village, and so far no loss of life has occurred at that site.

Channel 5

#445962 - 09/06/12 06:29 AM Re: FECTAB Fires Up Again & Throws Charges At Chukka [Re: Marty]  
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NICH Says: Chukka "No Problem Mon"

NICH and the Ministry of Culture has responded to FECTAB's fiery press conference earlier this week.

As we showed you, multiple Belizean tour operators came out raging at the Jamaican owned company for a rappelling structure that the company installed near one of the routes used by cave tubing guests.

Well this evening NICH issued a statement on the dispute, basically coming out squarely in defence of Chukka.

The release explains that NICH met with FECTAB last week to quote, "provide clear evidence that the construction of the rappelling platform follows strict international standards for these types of facilities in public parks...It also meets with all standards established for International Amusement Parks and Attractions in the U.S." end quote.

The statement concludes by saying that NICH and the Ministry Of Tourism and Culture will quote, "continue to protect and develop our cultural heritage in a responsible and sustainable manner."

FECTAB has vowed to use all legal means nationally and internationally to ensure compliance with what they say is the law.

Channel 7

#452686 - 12/04/12 08:34 AM Re: FECTAB Fires Up Again & Throws Charges At Chukka [Re: Marty]  
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Former Chukka Belize Partner Accuses Company of Vandalism

This afternoon, police investigators went to a tourist park known as Big Hill at mile 9 on the Coastal Road. The owner, Tom Wilson is claiming that his property was vandalized.

But, it's not some random act of lawlessness - he's accusing his former partners, Chukka Tours of vandalizing the property they once shared.

That was until both sides agreed to terminate the contract recently - and Chukka undertook , in writing, to remove everything they had put in, right down to the toilet fixtures.

Wilson told police in a complaint that they went too far, beyond what was agreed. But tonight Chukka's country manager is defending her company's actions; she says they only took out what they put in.

Here's the interview she gave the media today:..

Valerie Woods, Country Manager - CHUKKA Belize
"We did not vandalize. The fact of the matter here guys is very simple - it's a landlord and tenant situation and the landlord had nothing on the property when the tenant came. The tenant put pretty much everything on that property including the very road that one drives on to utilize the property - hundreds of thousands of dollars alone for the road. We removed all items that were ours and this was stated clearly. Were doors removed? Yes. Were toilets and urinals removed? Yes - all those that would have resulted of breakage of tiles which we had agreed to. Were sheets of zincs removed? yes because those are ours and we could use them at the other locations where we do business as well. We can recycle the use of those."

"Several things were removed but it wasn't vandalism in any stretch of the imagination. Should he chose to do that or I believe you are suggesting that he lodge some police report - then we will deal with it as we would with any other police report lodge against anybody."

"This should be of no surprise to Mr. Wilson. This is a just a case of a landlord and a tenant, we continue to have relationship with him on other areas. The generator that was purchase under the company through the company - he did offer to purchase the generator. However we need the generator for the other location as well."

Jules Vasquez
"They also say (not Mr. Wilson) that you broke the stairs at the launch of the zipline - that CHUKKA's people broke the stairs at the launching area for the zipline."

Valerie Woods
"We did no such thing. There are several pieces of lumber and different things that we utilize in our other location and we simply took those out - they are very good pieces of lumber that we can utilize - very good pieces of material that we can utilize, we did no such thing."

Jules Vasquez
"CHUKKA tore down walls, remove zinc roofing as discuss, broke pipes, dislodge toilets and also dismantle a gift shop, two bars, three bathrooms, a generator room and the zipline in the caves. Are those all under the MOU even?"

Valerie Woods
"Yes, every single thing."

Jules Vasquez
"Even the tearing down of walls?"

Valerie Woods
"Every single asset there that was listed is ours to remove - everyone. Although we did not break pipes, we did not do that one, but every single asset. In terms of a gift shop - we literally closed it down, let's not get carried away - it's a thatch - a palapa - and we dislodge and dismantled everything connected to that housed the different things that we had there as merchandise. Yes we took down all lines, all ropes. Yes we removed toilets and urinals - not all because we did not removed those that would have resulted in breakage of the tiles as was the request of the landlord, so we did not do those. We took down any asset that was ours that we could take - we took."

Jules Vasquez
"For the avoidance of doubt - you took this approach because you didn't want to leave any structure that would be suitable for a competitor to take over as a turn-key operator?"

Valerie Woods
"Yes we are in matter of business - we took our assets to ensure that we have all our assets on the properties that we are operating on and that yes that no other person/s could easily utilize our assets to conduct a tour of their own - that's up to them if they want to but not with our assets. The gates were ours but we didn't remove that."

Wilson told us his attorney has advised him not to speak to the media at this time. As Woods noted, Chukka and Tom Wilson still have active contracts and ongoing business arrangements.

FECTAB On Chukka Bz: "I Told You So..."

And the reason they have those arrangements is because they used to be business partners.

In fact, it's Tom and Yvette Wilson who first brought Chukka to Belize as minority shareholders in their company Bakkabush Tours. If that name sounds familiar, it should. In 2010, because of that Chukka partnership, Bakkabush was the principal target of FECTAB. And targets they were, with the Wilson's even receiving death threats and suffering damage to property.

Since then, the partnership has dissolved, Bakkabush's operations have been absorbed into Chukka Belize, and, Chukka has arranged to purchase the Wilson's shareholdings.

All that background is important because tonight it comes right back to FECTAB. Though they bashed Wilson when he was in business with Chukka in 2010, tonight, they are coming to his rescue - if only to illustrate what they've been saying all along - that Chukka has no friends in Belize.

The FECTAB threesome came to our studio this morning and here's how they explained the turn of events and their shifting alliance:..

Yhony Rosado -
"Jules, I've been noticing CHUKKA from the very first moment of having my own enemies - even Tom Wilson who we are defending today - he was once upon a time my worst enemy. He almost came on record to say that I have something with him personally. If it is true that CHUKKA had break more than what they were supposed to breaking at Mr. Tom Wilson place - it is the same truth we are bringing out today is the same thing that will happen at Jaguar Paw because remember they dint buy anything - they only lease and rent. If they get mad with NICH or government they will do the same thing."

Jules Vasquez
"It's Tom Wilson who brought CHUKKA into Belize."

Yhony Rosado -
"Yes absolutely true."

Jules Vasquez
"And here you are now saying poor Tom."

Tom Greenwood, President - FECTAB
"We are not saying poor Tom. If they do it to Tom what else are they going to do to us."

David Almendarez - "Cave Tubing R Us"
"Guys we've been ringing the alarm for a long time. What happened to Mr. Wilson is just another drop in the bucket. What we are telling the government and everybody - we need to pay attention to this company. They moved up their ranks in BTIA, they had done a lot of things strategically placing themselves to not only be number one but to do the Wal-Mart effect - stifle out everybody else in the business. The same thing that has been happening to Tom Wilson has been happening to us for years. The same pressure he is going through is the same pressure we are going through. We are saying its time to call an ace an ace - CHUKKA Tours is coming to suck us dry."

"What has happen to Tom Wilson is to show you exactly the type of person CHUKKA Tour is. These guys will move in until they need you and when they don't need you anymore they totally wipe their hands and destroy you in the process."

Tom Greenwood, President - FECTAB
"Now, we hope the Belizean people will see who are the real bad boys in this situation. At the Princess when I read the Florida/Caribbean Cruise Association booklet in which CHUKKA has bought a whole page and I read a part of it that clearly indicated to me what I knew they were - that is that it looks like these guys are here to take over and I flung the book. It was something to bring effect and I flung the book away and I warned and I said these people are not good news - we were going to end up in problems and problems we ended up in."

"This latest incident only proves that we are right. CHUKKA Cove has to leave this country, period!"

Chukka Bz Boss Unfazed By Fectab

And so while FECTAB is saying "I told you so…" and pal-ing up to Tom Wilson, Chukka's country manager isn't impressed.

She says it's all an arrangement of convenience which she won't entertain:..

Valerie Woods, Country Manager - CHUKKA Belize
"Ladies and gentlemen, I simply will not dignify the ranting of FECTAB because they have a personal vendetta against those who own CHUKKA and obviously I am the face of CHUKKA Belize and so they transcended that to myself."

"I will not simply go away because they don't like me and I will not go away because they don't like CHUKKA. We are not doing anything wrong. We continue to employ Belizeans, we continue to do so."

Jules Vasquez
"How to you view the whole thing in so far as the fact that FECTAB whose original mandate is to demonize Wilson, BAKKABUSH Tours and CHUKKA who were partners is now an advocate for Tom Wilson against CHUKKA?"

Valerie Woods
"I don't know whose terms is this "the enemy of my enemy is my friend.""

Jules Vasquez
"Do you see how they handled Tom Wilson's property - then the extension is made - what wouldn't they do to any of us or to anyone else. This is the brutish way that CHUKKA operates, that's what your opponents are saying - this illustrates it. How do you respond to that?"

Valerie Woods
"There are many supplies and many employees of this company that can demonstrate otherwise of how CHUKKA Belize operates or even how CHUKKA operates. Our former partners Mr. Wilson has not brought any of this personally to my attention. It's a matter of utilizing a voice piece - the noise makers which everybody knows, FECTAB to his advantage because we did not leave the property intact so that another tour company could simply where we left off."

Of note is that Valerie Woods was elected Vice President of BTIA last week Thursday - after a quite vicious campaign against her - which included smear posters stapled to lamp-posts on the day of the election.

Channel 7

#452777 - 12/05/12 09:04 AM Re: FECTAB Fires Up Again & Throws Charges At Chukka [Re: Marty]  
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Chukka Manager answers her critics

FECTAB is on the war path as tensions rise between the organization and Chukka Tours (Belize). The foreign owned Tour Company has been embroiled in a controversy with local operators for the last two year. The history of the dispute goes back to when Tom Wilson brought in Chukka Tours as an investor into Belize. FECTAB (the group of local tour operators) was upset because they claimed that the much larger company was taking all the business and that it was creating an unfair advantage. Last night we aired an interview with Tom Greenwood of FECTAB where he condemned the actions of the multi-national company. Tonight we will hear some comments from Yhony Rosado who expressed concern over what is believed to be a move by Chukka Tours to establish a forceful presence in the tourism sector and squeeze out the local players. 

{They} visibly come from outside your country, want some, then take everything. And I bring that on record. This company never come "You want some?  I will help you some."  They come for take over. It's so bad in the entire country, and worse in the city.  We depend on the cruise ship.  The taxi man they do pay off... fully loaded. We looking for the cruise ship, and you know what they bring to out face?   We starvation pickney.  If there is no ship out there, we find a way to live.  But when the ship come out there, and when the big guy Chukka, whosoever, come in and take everything, we don't get nothing in the city. All we get are the {short hauls within the city, up and down.It is natural to be upset.  

David Almendarez is convinced that the company is employing high-handed and strategic tactics to dominate the industry in Belize. 

We've been ringing the alarm for a long long time.  What happened to Mr Wilson, It's just another drop in the bucket. What we're telling the Government and everybody, we need to pay attention to this company.  They move up the ranks in BTIA.  They've done a lot of things, strategically placing themselves to not only to be number one, but to do the Walmart effect, stifle out everybody else in the business. It's time that we start operating on a level playing field.  Nobody else from a local tour operator can do repelling on our national park, yet this company can do it.   Nobody else have a free access on a lot of our treasures like the Crystal Caves.  Whenever raid or no raid, yet this company can do it.  And there's nobody putting them into check.  They keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

Over the weekend,, Chukka Tours broke off a contractual arrangement that they had with Tom Wilson where they had use of two of his facilities. The MOU between Chukka and Tom Wilson, according to the parties, stated that the foreign owned enterprise could remove all their assets they had invested in and established at Wilson’s facilities. Wilson over the weekend had filed a police report stating that in the process of taking their assets from the premises, Chukka vandalized his property. But according to Chukka Belize Country Manager, Valerie Woods, the attacks on Chukka are unsubstantiated and personal.

Yes, there was an MOU.  We did not vandalize. The fact of the matter here guys is very simple - it's a landlord and tenant situation and the landlord had nothing on the property when the tenant came. The tenant put pretty much everything on that property including the very road that one drives on to utilize the property - hundreds of thousands of dollars alone for the road. We removed all items that were ours and this was stated clearly. Were doors removed? Yes. Were toilets and urinals removed? Yes - all those that would have resulted of breakage of tiles which we had agreed to. Were sheets of zincs removed? yes because those are ours and we could use them at the other locations where we do business as well. We can recycle the use of those.
She likewise maintains that Chukka is being negatively portrayed and that her character is also being slandered in the media 

I think it's a darnright shame that that continues to be stated and followed upon. You're literally stating to me that accusationas that a single private company has bought out almost every single Goverment agency.  The work ludicrous isn't sufficient to this kind of statement.  This has become completely now a matter of personal as well, as most of you have brought to my attention, a postor being thrown around, and now this release about how I'm a sell-out and not good for Belize, and so forth.  I will leave immature tactics for those who choose to be immature.  And like I said, fron Mr Wilson one would have expected him to simply pick up the phone or email and have a conversation, as he does every month anyway regarding his payments for other things


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