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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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Belize Prepares for the Restart of Cruise Operations

The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) today released a new set of health and safety protocols that will guide the restart of cruise operations in Belize. The protocols outline the necessary adjustments and adaptations to be undertaken at each step of the cruise cycle - from home port, to destination and return.

These protocols are the result of many hours of hard work by the Belize Cruise Taskforce, working in collaboration with the Americas Cruise Taskforce and the Central American Cruise Subcommittee, to develop special health and safety protocols in line with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conditional sail order. These protocols also incorporate recommendations from the Healthy Sail Panel, Belize's Ministry of Health and Wellness and local stakeholders via consultations.

"There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for reopening of the cruise industry. The outlook appears much more positive than it has for the past year", stated Hon. Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism & Diaspora Relations. "It is vital that we are adequately prepared for the return of our guests, and the key to our success lies in developing a strategic framework to ensure a safe and secure experience for passengers, crew and the destination."

For four consecutive years, Belize welcomed over 1 million cruise passengers annually to its shores. In 2019, prior to the pandemic, Belize received almost 1.2 million passengers with 68% of travelers arriving at Fort Street Tourism Village in Belize City and 32% arriving at Harvest Caye in southern Belize. The BTB and the Ministry of Tourism & Diaspora Relations are committed to the full recovery of the cruise industry to Pre-COVID numbers, and to enhance the Belize tourism product to make it more competitive within the region.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) will resume with the first test sail on August 4th, 2021. This will be followed by the official first guests to call on Harvest Caye on August 9th, 2021, signaling the reopening of the cruise tourism sector in Belize. It has been over a year since the cruise industry in our region has been suspended, and thousands of Belizeans that work in this sector are now ready to welcome cruise guests to our shores once again, guided by the new health and safety protocols.

To see a copy of the protocols please click Here.

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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Yohnny Rosado Critical of Cruise Protocols

Last week, we told you about the latest developments in cruise tourism in Belize. Norwegian Cruise Line plans to resume port calls on Harvest Caye on August 9, 2021. But, as we showed you last week, NCL is having difficulty in resuming its operations in the US, due to strict health and safety requirements from the Centers for Disease Control.

One independent tour operator has decided to come forward about his concerns for the small tour operators, whenever cruise tourism is actually revived in Belize. He's the outspoken Yhony Rosado, and he insists that colleagues of his continue to complain that they have been pushed around in their application for Gold Standard Certification from the BTB.

That's the program where the BTB certifies that stakeholders in the industry have met their minimum standards to reduce the possible risk of COVID-19 exposure for tourists, and staff. This certification is designed to build guests' confidence that the operator is committed and equipped to providing a COVID safe experience.

But, Yhony Rosado says that the brand name stakeholders will have an advantage over the local operators with the implementation of this new COVID regime. He explained why in an interview today:

Yhony Rosado - Independent Tour Operator
"There's a lot of my friends out there that are crying. They're filling out all the forms with BTB, simply to go to the airport at taximen, as tour guides, as tour operators. I'm talking about the average Belizean, you know. I'm not talking about the Biltmore, Radisson, Hamansi, and all those fancy names that the media and the government want to represent. Represent everyone; everyone is a Belizean, and all of us have the right to eat, without fighting or killing each other. I think the BTB wants the businesses, wants the business, wants the cruise ship, the business people at Harvest Caye, Stakebank, Magical Port, Waterloo, and Radisson; we all want the US dollars back, but we're forgetting that we need the manpower, which is the average, local Belizean working men, and they're not doing their job with those people, like in my case."

"You're referring specifically to the bottleneck for gold standard approvals?"

Yhony Rosado
"Exactly, the gold standard has separated us more, from the average Belizean, the average entrepreneur, like myself."

"A lot of people are tired of emailing them, of calling them, because they don't want to see you in person. It's their fault; it's not our fault."

"So, I've learned to console and tell my friends, listen, just fill out the forms, and do your thing. When the time comes, there will be a system to find out who is wrong, and who is right."

"I'm begging the government of the day; I'm begging BTB to do their best for a recovery for the small guides and tour operators, first. Why do you have to put the big hotels? I know that they're your logo. I know they're representing Belize."

"I am going to local banks accountable. They're being very laid-back in helping the tourism stakeholders. They're not lending us a dollar. If they know you're a tourism stakeholder, they're not lending you money. I don't know what the government can do about that. That's a type of recovery; you cannot recover without the finance."

This afternoon, we contacted a member of the Belize Tourism Board's public relations team for a response to Rosado's claim that there is a bottleneck in the application for the very important gold standard certification.

They say, quote, "Presently our data indicates that there is no backlog in the processing of applications. To date, 270 Tour Operators have been approved and registered while 37 new applications are awaiting approval, pending that they fulfill all the nine-point requirements. Also, approximately 602 accommodations have obtained Gold Standard certification, while 64 have applied but not fulfilled all the requirements.

The BTB continues its outreach program where stakeholders are called directly to encourage them to apply. To date, 137 stakeholders have been contacted directly…the BTB has developed a template to assist and guide small operators and accommodations....In addition, the BTB has also held numerous training sessions on how to use the template." End quote.

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