On Wednesday, we told you about the appointment of the new Director of Cruise and Regional Initiatives, Valdemar Andrade. He has to figure out how to shore up sagging cruise tourism numbers but he also has to map out a plan for Belize Cruise future. Itís widely accepted that Belize has to get a berthing facility Ė that means a port where the cruise ships can pull up Ė and the passengers disembark unto dry ground Ė without having to board tenders. We asked him to look in his crystal ball.
"Which will rise? We hear State Bank is on the table and we are hearing now about Crawl Caye. What will be the solution and how soon will that solution arrive?"
Valdemar Andrade - BTB, Director of Cruise and Regional Initiatives
"We certainly have to make a decision this year on what the solution will be. The Government has currently put together a Crusie sub-committee to look at those initiatives and look to see which one will be best or whether more than one solutions will be available because we are also looking at a birthing facility for Belize City itself as the Port of Entry for Cruise. We are looking at how we can also spread cruise throughout the country and not only relegated to a Belize City option in regards to that Tourism sub sector of cruise. Over the time we do have to consider the best option and of course the best option - if you look at the National Tourism Master Plan - it calls for a Cruise Port. At the end of the day the issues for Cruise is to be able to get into the Port within a certain time period and get out of the port within a certain time period. So the best option is always a port with a birthing facility where people can get on and off safely, comfortably and quickly."
"Regarding the National Tourism Master Plans; specifically as it relates to Cruise Tourism in the South - isn't that specifically off limits?"
"In terms of the Master Plan it talks about Cruise Tourism and it talks about Pocket Cruise - which are cruises of a certain size. Sizes anywhere between 300 person to 1000 persons on a small cruise."
"The Master Plan specifically inveighs against mass cruise tourism in Southern Belize as did the Seatone Management Consultation.Ē
"Jules, in terms of mass tourism - then yes. Because you don't want to look at the same 700 thousand passengers coming off per annum in a small southern port because of many issue not only because of facilities but also capacities and security. That is why we are trying to build it from a small level up to whatever the capacities would mean for the country. Remember for us also it's not only the facilities but the natural wealth we are trying to protect is one thing that we have to ensure as well."
Belize is having major event in June to attract cruise lines. Itís posted on the Florida Caribbean Cruise Associaiton Website and itís called the FCCA Platinum Associate Member Advisory Council Conference from June 19th Ė 23rd.