Tonight, there are mixed messages coming out of the Placencia Village Council – after a strange press release. The release is based on a village meeting which was held two months ago on July 13th, 2013. That’s where villager Kristine Small raised the issue of Norwegian Cruise Line’s proposed Harvest Caye Cruise Tourism Project. There was a vote and Villagers took a decision to support the National Tourism Master Plan. That plan says
“the only acceptable form of cruise tourism for the southeast coast of Belize is pocket cruise tourism.”
Now, for those who don’t know, pocket cruises are those that have 250 – 300 passengers on board. Now, Norwegian Cruise Line, their ships like “The Epic” hold more than four thousand passengers, so that’s definitely not pocket cruising.
And that’s what makes today’s release so odd. Because after endorsing pocket cruising, it then goes on to use that miniature model to somehow endorse the mega cruising that Norwegian Cruise Line Represents. The statement says, quote,
“We believe that for the project to have the pocket cruise effect, GOB should ensure that locally owned vessels be used for tendering and tours. This will reduce the negative impacts to the delicate ecosystems in the area….”
Now, we’re not sure how tender boats become pocket cruising, and Placencia villager Kristine Small, who led the discussion at the July Village meeting says the release is quote,
“Totally contradicting what was said at the meeting.”
She said it was agreed that they would only support small ships with a capacity of 250 - 300 passengers, and anything more than that was considered mass tourism.
The Village Council says it has formed a planning group to focus on both overnight and cruise tourism.