WE SAY “NO”! BTIA Toledo Chapter stands firmly against Norwegian Cruise Lines Proposal
Many organisations and individuals have already expressed their opposition to the development of Crawl Caye as a cruise port and the introduction of large-scale cruise ship tourism in southern Belize. The BTIA Toledo Chapter joins them in rejecting any introduction of large-scale cruise tourism in southern Belize, following the Government’s rejection of Crawl Caye on environmental grounds and their stated support of NCL’s request to seek an alternative site in southern waters.
Tourists visit Belize to see our natural wonders – inland and offshore – and our tourism industry is dependent on conserving our natural resources. Toledo is a prime example of responsible tourism in action and we pride ourselves on employing responsible tourism practices – protecting the environment, preserving local culture, and benefitting the local communities.
Development invariably comes at a cost, and Toledo is not prepared to pay the price associated with the mainstream cruise industry. Our sites have limited capacity and our infrastructure in general is completely unequipped to deal with the volume of visitors that cruise ships would bring. Our way of life and traditional values would be threatened. Toledo has worked long and hard to establish its reputation as a prime ecotourism destination and mass tourism would jeopardise our overnight tourism industry.
There are many studies and statistics available which suggest that cruise lines do not provide the long-term economic benefits that overnight tourism does, many reports regarding pollution from cruise ships and the negative impacts on local communities. The disadvantages of large-scale cruise tourism led the BTB to reject any such proposition for southern Belize in their Sustainable Master Tourism Plan, specifically stating that“pocket cruise tourism [less than 300 passengers]" is the only acceptable form of cruise tourism in South Eastern Coast Belize and only in areas of new development in the northern portion of this section of the Belize coast.”
BTIA Toledo Chapter stands firmly in support of the BTB’s policy as stated in the Master Plan. Norwegian Cruise Line’s proposal to develop a port in southern Belize runs counter to that policy. We urge the Cabinet and Minister of Tourism to honour the BTB’s conclusion in the Sustainable Master Tourism Plan, itself the result of advice from industry experts and extensive public consultation, and to recognise the damage large-scale cruise ship tourism would bring to the Toledo District.
The Father of the Nation, the Right Honourable George Price, was often said to oppose tourism development because he did not want Belize to become “a nation of waiters”. If we are to ignore a national hero and instead look to the US to provide economic answers for us, then let us look to President Theodore Roosevelt, and remember his words:
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
For more information please contact Dilma Cano at the BTIA Toledo Chapter office in Punta Gorda Town, at 722-2531 or email [email protected]