Despite opposition to the planned mega-tourism projects at Harvest Caye and Stake Bank, the Government has thrown in its lot with their developers.

Even as the Department of the Environment is accused of running roughshod over its own protocols and the Belize Tourism Board is charged with ignoring its own plans for tourism in the area, the Government clings to the hope that development will come sooner rather than later.

Senator Godwin Hulse, who chairs the Cabinet's sub-committee on Investment, re-states the Government's position.

He says that the Government is for development of the South and lifting the residents there out of poverty.

He also contends that it is the people of the area - the Maya and Garifuna - who should be taking the lead in promoting tourism in the area.

Neither NCL nor the Government would allow environmental damage or the freezing out of Belizeans from the promised tourism bounty.

As for Stake Bank, which will see a cruise port backed by Michael Feinstein, there is some final business to take care of between some of the principals, but all systems are otherwise go, says Hulse.

There is to be a settlement between Royal Caribbean Lines and Fort Street Tourism Village as to how the latter will be compensated for loss of business at its site.

That project sees the building of a port for four cruise ships at a time with space for duty-free businesses, and a causeway to Drowned Coye and west to Belize City through a manatee sanctuary.

Patrick Jones