Stake Bank Project Gets Environmental Approval; NCL Urges Caution
15 days ago, the National Environmental Appraisal committee met to consider a pair of addenda to the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Cruise Tourist project at Stake Bank Caye and North Drowned Caye. The project received tentative approval pending approval of an environmental monitoring fee and a proposals for fuel transport to one of the cayes.
Well, the news tonight is that the Environmental Compliance Plan was signed today. Developer Mike Feinstein confirmed this to us, which means that his project now has full environmental compliance. We'd say that's a green light, but pending an approasial by Cabinet, it might still be yellow.
Still the environmental clearance alone would seem to put Feinstein ahead of the Harvest Caye Project which is still pending environmental approval. But what does Norwegian Cruise Line think of the much larger Stake Bank project proposed for the Belize district?
Yesterday we spoke the project director for NCL's Harvest Caye investment about a parallel berthing facility in Belize City competing with their plan for the south.
He told us that he was familiar with the Stake Bank Project, and why it could put a strain the Belize City Tourism model:
"I've been familiar with that project since the early 2003; my first trip here. We are very familiar with the project. The marketplace can only sustain a certain number and I think the master plan, the sustainable tourism is an important factor in that. Small cities and small destinations have a hard time dealing with large number of people. The reason we made a decision that Harvest Caye only have one ship is we feel like the south and the size of the market, one ship is the capacity that we should use in the south."
"You feel that, that model is a) unsustainable or b) do you feel that the two cannot co-exist. It's either one or the other."
"I think it's difficult to understand that without knowing all the details of the project. I think that the market is already experiencing some growing pains and the City ability to accommodate large number of tourism. It may be viable in certain economic models. I am not sure and I don't have the details of that. It's hard to say if it will be viable. I would be concern because the type of product we are trying to sell in Belize is much more village tourism and I am not sure that project falls under that category."
"If I am not mistaken your project which has been criticize for this invasive mass tourism is now criticizing Stake Bank for introducing mass tourism."
"I believe they can only accommodate 3 or 4 ships."
"That's a much different picture than what we are doing and one of the things about understanding tourism is that intimate scale. One of the things that we think Belize has is a product that is very personal. We build in value - what is the take away value is that our guests are going to get the memories that they are going to have. Belize because of its environmental and its ecological historical and cultural - that's a personal transfer - mass tourism. I know that because I've been in mass tourism all my life. It all comes down to the individual experience."
Darley stressed that the Stake Bank project poses no threat to their investment at Harvest Caye.