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FECTAB Lets It Fly At Norwegian #470723
08/22/13 04:42 AM
08/22/13 04:42 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 77,850
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Marty Online happy OP

Marty  Online Happy OP
Last week we had extended coverage of Norwegian Cruise Line’s proposed cruise destination on Harvest Caye in Southern Belize. Well, the fellows from FECTAB were watching closely. And by fellows, we mean Tom Greenwood, Yohnny Rosado and David Almendarez. You’ve seen them many times on this newscast raging against the Jamaican owned Chukka Tours. Well now, they’re going after Norwegian Cruise Line because they say the Southern Port will take jobs from Belize City. As you might imagine, they had some choice words for the Government officials who hammered out the Memorandum of Understanding with Norwegian. Here’s what they said:…

Tom Greenwood - President , FECTAB
"This MOU is a litany of 'I nuh know weh I di do' - Godwin Hulse, what happened to you my brother? My God you started up as an icon for us and I respect you for that because you have a big mouth like me and you're ready to talk and all of that - Godwin you're a part of this? Michael Singh - I only have one word for you and I can't use it on television - suffice to say that you Michael Singh sitting at the head of this are going to cause damage, you're causing damage to a whole lot of people. FECTAB takes this position - this entire MOU is not right, it's wrong in many places - it has made mistakes. Those mistakes could easily have been corrected by proper consultation - an open thing, and it is just a litany of mistakes being made. The mistakes will cost a lot of us our investments and will cost a lot of us our jobs."

And that’s really what today’s event was about the concern that cruise tourism jobs now concentrated in Belize City will go south with Norwegian’s new port at Harvest Caye where cruise ships can dock at the floating pier:

Tom Greenwood
"Here's a cruise line paying $70,000 to $80,000 a day to tender people up and down and suddenly they're going to have a port where they don't have to tender anybody? Hello - wakey wakey. Where do you think they're going to go? Down that way."

Yohnny Rosado -
"There are many phone calls from tour guides and tour operators that they have borrowed money and now they're thinking that these ships are going to Placencia."

Tom Greenwood
"You know something - I get the feeling this cruise tourism village right here is going to be a supermarket within a couple of years and places like Caves Branch that sees 100,000 guests a year is going to be a ghost town."

Yohnny Rosado
"Because there will be many Belizeans without a job in Belize City very soon. We are barely making money in the city outside of the Tourism Village and if you look at us, we don't look in any way professional. We look like hustlers, second class, third class tour guides- we look like 'made in China' - you know those stuff, we look fake. So imagine when this cruise line goes to their own island - you think we can get a wet suit and you think we can get a little dorey and say 'hey guys, is here' - do you think you can sell that product around an island."

Tom Greenwood
"We must plan for the next two years to possibly not see any life out here. We're going to jeopardize something that's been established 12 years in Belize City for something that is going to be enclosed on an island in the South of the country against the wishes of the greater Tourism Industry Association? What do we do folks?"

And today the best idea on what to do was to take direct action:

Tom Greenwood
"Does the government listen to the people? Hell no! Has the past government ever listened to the people? Hell no! Have past governments listened to the people? Hell no! People have got to come together, we need a few thousand, a very large number of thousands to get together in busses, trucks, cars and go to Belmopan and jam up all the streets and everything - they can't arrest 20,000 of us."

Yohnny Rosado
"I came here with a different mindset - I came to beg the government to do the right thing."

Someone from the Audience
"I'm sorry but begging does not work - this government needs to be shown a lesson."

Tom Greenwood
"Brother Yohnny is doing the right way - we always have to do things peacefully but I am sick and tired of worrying what I will put on my children's table this evening."

But according to this group, others stand to profit from this project:

David Almendarez - Fantasea Belize
"Because it's some few well connected Belizeans enslaving the masses of us for a few dollars more - we will have foreigners coming into our country and telling us how to use our assets and how to manage our assets and we as a country in 2013 - will accept this. It's horrendous if as a people we accept this - it stinks from the bottom up - it's for a few dollars more and to send a few privilege people to law school. It's time to put an end to this, it doesn't make tourism sense, it doesn't make common sense, and it’s for a few dollars more. And we ask our government, why for a few dollars more?"

And any round condemnation of the Harvest Caye project wouldn’t be complete without some cultural commentary

Tom Greenwood
"And we're already hearing the mutterings and grumblings, especially from the Garinagu - these people are talking about taking sacred ceremonies of a people that are indigenous to the region for thousands of years and turning it into a Disney operation."

David Almendarez
"We are creating Belize - better known as Mother Nature's best kept secret - into Universal Studios and into a Disney theme park. You're going to have other people from other countries coming in and dancing as Garifunas, you're going to have people from Mexico coming in and being Mayas, you're going to have Americans painted up as other things and this is the environment that this kind of agreement is creating."

Tom Greenwood
"Can we stop it? That's the important thing - at this point in time an act of God and act of the people, or an act of government."

And while an “act of government” appears unlikely, Greenwood made it clear that he will act if Chukka Tours gets special treatment at the No-hoch Chen Archaeological Park, commonly known as Cave’s Branch. Yes, even though the press conference was about Norwegian Cruise Line, Greenwood did manage to somehow work his arch-nemesis, Chukka Tours into it. It’s not really relevant to tonight’s story but as a performance of pure rage, it is a classic – and one we had to share:…

Tom Greenwood - President , FECTAB
"The next time Caves Branch is flooded and the next time Chukka goes there with people and can access a natural patrimony site while native Belizeans can't take food home - you watch the 'madda rocking chair' that will happen, you watch what will happen. Because I won't put up with that, I won't put up with a Jamaican operator to come here to go somewhere that we put together and we have to stand up and 'boy I wonder what I'm going to take home for my children now' - that will stop!!"

Channel 7

Re: FECTAB Lets It Fly At Norwegian [Re: Marty] #470828
08/23/13 06:07 AM
08/23/13 06:07 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 77,850
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

Marty  Online Happy OP

Not All Is Good With Norwegian Cruise Lines Future Belize Port

A special feature showing that not everything is as good as it seems with NCL's Harvest Caye Development in Belize.

"Our ships will be going somewhere else, unless we can figure out a way to make the experience better." Colin Murphy, Norwegians Vice President, Destination & Strategic Development, following the rejection of their proposed purchase of Crawl Caye in southern Belize for development as a cruise port.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE: Dirty tricks and bully boy tactics in the Tropics?

Norwegian Cruise Lines announced the purchase last week of the 75 acre Harvest Caye off the coast of southern Belize, and their intention to create a cruise port and eco-friendly private island two miles south of the tiny fishing village of Placencia, along with a mainland hub for land-based tours. The project is apparently set to generate local jobs, so you could be forgiven for wondering why there is local, and very vocal, opposition.

The overwhelming attraction for some Belizeans is the promise of 800 to 1200 jobs (the numbers of jobs, and whether direct or indirect, varies according to the source), and NCL says that they have created a hiring programme specifically for Belizeans who want to work on their vessels until their island project is complete, but no details are available. Surprisingly, some people seem happy to accept these suggestions of jobs at face value, despite employment numbers not being included in the MOU indeed, the only mention of employment in the MOU is that foreign employees will not exceed 25%.

Even so, the hope of up to 1200 jobs in an area with nearly 12% unemployment is understandable, perhaps until people start to question what they will do for the other six months of the year, find themselves unable to meet the rental costs for vendors booths at the cruise terminal, or meet the licensing regulations for the Tourism Boards proposed certification scheme for artisans.

The local opposition is based largely on the premise that the small and uncertain number of jobs does not begin to outweigh the environmental damage of having c. 4,000 people descend on Southern Belize in an environmentally fragile area, the costs to the communities and their traditions and culture, or the threat to the established overnight ecotourism industry. They've heard it all before, having successfully blocked an attempt by Royal Caribbean in 2010 to establish a cruise terminal and tourist village in Placencia village, a campaign for which the Placencia Citizens for Sustainable Development won a World Responsible Tourism Award.

Around the same time, the Government commissioned and subsequently adopted their National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan. Both NCL and the Government of Belize have made much in their propaganda of the Master Plans reference to establish a second cruise port to reduce over-crowding in Belize City, but the inconvenient truth is that the same Plan identified a second port location in Belize City and specifically stated that pocket cruise tourism [less than 300 passengers] is the only acceptable form of cruise tourism in South Eastern Coast Belize.

One local activist told us, There is so much that is so wrong with the way the Government and NCL are behaving, starting with NCLs threat to pull out of Belize when they were refused their first proposal on environmental grounds, to the secret dealings and complete failure to consult with locals, as well as the huge amount of spin they are able to create given their US$50 million+ annual advertising spend. Its quite ironic that Hugh Darleys blog (NCLs Belize Project Director) talks about community involvement being vital in destination development, how cruise ship companies should not manage destinations, and how countries that do not develop PPIs with the cruise lines benefit little from the earnings each time ships came to port. It seems like he had the best of intentions for the Port of Falmouth, but look at what a disaster thats turned out to be.¯

An environmentalist said, The MOU calls for a minimum of 25% of passengers going on tour, leaving 3000 people on 12 acres of a 71 acre island, and they call that eco-friendly? Thats a higher density population than New York City. And NCL says this project for a 4000+ passenger ship has a smaller footprint than the previously approved hotel for 760 guests. Harvest Caye is a critical manatee habitat and breeding ground, and they want to bring in a ship over a thousand feet long? This is a fragile area and none of this makes any sense. Southern Belize isnt suitable for large cruise ships, period.

NCL has already provoked outrage among some of the Garifuna community with their culturally insensitive plans to hold a "Dugu Dance" on the island. The Dugu is, in fact, a sacred ceremony. One lady wrote, I am sick to my stomach with shame I pray that my Garifuna brothers and sisters will not put a few dollars ahead of cultural pride. Dugu is so sacred that they will never understand.¯ The National Garifuna Council followed up with their stinging condemnation of NCL, saying, We find the announcement insulting and indicative of arrogance and ignorance on the part of those concerned.

NCL says they are disappointed at the opposition, because people rejected the proposal before they even knew properly what it is: NCL has held no public meetings or consultations whatsoever. The Belize Minister of Tourism said, "They refuse even to listen, sometimes being very disrespectful" and "that is not what we want from these people that are supposed to be guiding this industry."


Re: FECTAB Lets It Fly At Norwegian [Re: Marty] #471475
08/31/13 04:38 AM
08/31/13 04:38 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 77,850
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

Marty  Online Happy OP

FECTAB Made Peace With PM

Last week, FECTAB held a memorable press conference, lathering Norwegian Cruise Line and its proposed project for Harvest Caye in Southern Belize. The raised so much hell that, the Prime Minister, who famously does not watch the news or read the papers, did get wind of their fulminations. So, he did the unexpected thing; he called FECTAB President Tom Greenwood and invited them to a meeting. That was held on Wednesday and today we caught up with the trio in Belize City to talk about what came out of the meeting. They were surprisingly upbeat about the undertakings given to them by the Prime Minister:…

Tom Greenwood - President, FECTAB
"It was a brilliant move on the part of the Prime Minister to at last give us a little respect, that is what we asked for - he gave us maximum respect because he asked our opinion, he argued with us, he talked with us - he tried to convince us on some things, we convinced him on a lot of things - it went extremely well."

David Almendarez - FECTAB
"The first thing he promised us is that if the project is done down south, it will go through a full EIA assessment, he also assured us it's not a done deal, it has to meet environmental compliance."

Yohnny Rosado - FECTAB
"If the Prime Minister assures it’s not a done deal, there's going to be some consultations and so we are with the people from Placencia. If the majority, democratically, wants the cruise ship - then we're going to be with the people - if the majority of the people in Placencia and in the south don't want the cruise ship then FECTAB is going to be with them all the way. So our government has that point blank that we are with the people and the government is with the people so hopefully the outcome is for the best for the entire country of Belize. I was honored to meet with the Prime Minister one to one and get that malicious thing in my head about the government that you just want to get to the top and not at the bottom but he assured us that we are just human beings."

Jules Vasquez
"One of the central concerns coming out of your press conference as I recall was the apparent likelihood of reduce turnings because if you have a berthing facility in the south and a tendering facility in the east then you may end up choosing that and we would lose ship mass. Where do we go with that?"

David Almendarez
"We spoke to the Prime Minister concerning that and he has assured us that if that project should go ahead, they will sign a memorandum of understanding which states that no ship that scheduled to come to Belize will be diverted - I mean a contractual agreement, a binding agreement. The Prime Minster gave us his word that if that thing should happen down south that no ship can be diverted to that area and no other cruise line will be allowed to use that particular port. He has given us that that will be a part of the MOU, that will be the contract that Norwegian will need to sign."

Tom Greenwood
"We told him that Colin Murphy said in a release to the Miami Herald and I quote 'Once the new facility is finished, ships will be diverted from Belize City'. He said Colin Murphy can say anything he wants, in the contractual agreement - no ships calling on the Belize City port will be diverted down south. However, if they feel like visiting the south on a second day - meaning come in one day and the next day you go down south - then we have no problems with that."

Yohnny Rosado
"He gave his okay and his support but the people in Placencia and all the MOU has to be in concordance because he assured us that he will not be like previous governments bypassing here, there and everywhere. So we like that about him, he literally out the fire on FECTAB but we will still keep it smoking until we see the results at the end of the day. We want them to come with the intentions to do business with the country that they're coming in and not just trying to take all the business for themselves."

Tom Greenwood
"What I saw in the MOU was an effort - Prime Minster waved it in our faces and said that he has taken it over - he put in there basic security for the people in the south who are going to be the tour operators and tour guides and providers at every level and this is what FECTAB tried to say. What we want to ensure and David was real instrumental there - is that we don't just become cooks and bottle washers, we must become owners and not just employees."

And as tour operation owners themselves, FECTAB has long been complaining about the road into the Nohoch Chen site, also known as Caves Branch. It’s 6 miles of the worst road you can find – and every day when cruise chips visits hundreds of tourists pass over it. It’s long been left unattended, but, apparently, not anymore:..

Tom Greenwood
"Thing is we've been trying to get someone to do something about that - the Prime Minister picked up his telephone and spoke to the people's concerned, won't mention names, but they were people from Ministry of Works and he said 'look get out there, get an assessment, tell me what it is, I'll give you the money - fix that road'. So it was a directive from him - so why does the Prime Minster of Belize have to get in at the ground level there. That's asking the general to go and load the machine gun for them down there - people should be doing their jobs and they're not and we've been screaming and then they call us trouble makers but why? Vehicles break down, break their wheels off - the guests are complaining morning, noon and night - that's not the way it works so we thank the Prime Minister for that - that road is going to be repaired."

Yohnny Rosado
"NICH and BTB have not called us for any meeting and that's why Tom is saying why does the Prime Minister have to do the job of BTB and NICH to do their job. Ultimately that's one of the thing the leader of a country should do, fix everything from bottom to top."

And one more bee in FECTAB’s bonnet is the Crystal Cave. That is part of the caves Branch attraction but when it floods, the regular tour guides can’t access it. They say only Chukka can. They put that housekeeping issue to the PM, and, apparently, he had a fix for that too!

Tom Greenwood
"A single tour operator has - because he accesses it through a private piece of land - has been able to do cave tubing when Belizeans are folding their arms and can't take bread home - and this is national patrimony. You can't go to Dunns Falls and Ocho Rios in Jamaica and say I want to do this special and keep everybody out of it - they would laugh you out of Jamaica - I get the feeling the way Jamaica is they more than would laugh you out of it. So, the Prime Minister said - that he can't promise us directly because it encroaches in someone else's domain and he got on the telephone and he spoke to the relevant people and one very important person as CEO and he said 'yes I agree with the guides'. When the caves are closed through flooding, they should be closed to everyone - not just everyone except this single person so we're getting some action on that. Taking bread and butter home - that's our job, they told us to go ahead and do it, they support us and now we're getting tremendous support directly from the Prime Minister of Belize - this is marvelous!"

Of note is that they told us that a new MOU with Norwegian is in the works.

Channel 7

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