Cruise arrivals down
While overnight visitor arrivals are up, cruise tourism suffered a ten percent decrease in 2012. A recent announcement by Carnival Cruise Line to cancel ten calls in 2013 will impact cruise arrivals, but the B.T.B. is optimistic, saying it expects that this year will hold its own. Director of Tourism, Laura Esquivel-Frampton says they are still ironing out the wrinkles with Carnival.
Laura Esquivel-Frampton, Director of Tourism
“As you know, we’ve received notification of a cancellation of ten ships this year. There was a request made by the Carnival Cruise Lines that Belize adopt a policy of no more than four ships in port. We had made that agreement in principle, however, when that agreement was made we already had bookings for the 2013 calendar. We have assured our partners that going forward in the 2014 and 2014 calendar, we will ensure that we try to work with that and stay to our four ship maximum. We’ve been working, we’ve been doing a lot of things behind the scenes. One of the things that was brought up was not having enough tenders. We have worked with our government and we thank the government for working with us and we gave additional incentives to tender operators to allow more tenders to enter the market for these heavy ship days. We’ll continue negotiating and our doors are open and we will continue discussing with all cruise lines on how we can help grow that market here for Belize.”
“At this point, is there a possibility that any of those cancellations might be reinstated for lack of a better word?”
“That’s a better question for Carnival but we are opened to that and as a matter of fact, we in the next couple weeks will be attending a cruise summit where we hope to have those discussion with Carnival.”
“But at this point, we would have been capable of handling that amount of passengers coming in?”
“We believe so and like I mentioned before, we were able to properly satisfy the other cruise lines that we were capable of handling those calls and we will continue to work to prove to all cruise lines that we are open for business and we are ready for business.”
Tour operators, on the other hand, are not as optimistic since they stand to lose significantly from tours that were pre-booked by Carnival customers. Other stakeholders in the industry like hair braiders, taxi drivers and arts and crafts vendors also point out that the cancellations will put a dent in their pockets.