AmbergrisCaye.com Home

Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal?

Posted By: Marty

Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/16/13 11:04 AM

GOB In Talk With Norwegian; Causes Conservation/Cruise Sector Worries

Tonight, waves of concern continue to ripple across the Tourism Sector as the Government of Belize has engaged in talks with the Cruise Tourism giant, Norwegian Cruise Line, about a major Cruise terminal on a small island in Southern Belize.

Reliable information to 7News is that NCL has approached GOB with a proposal to build a cruise port to call in Placencia. Part of the plan is to purchase Crawl Caye, which is a few miles away from mainland Placencia, to operate marine tours. Crawl Caye is a privately owned island currently on sale on the internet for 6 million US dollars.

One of the major concerns about this development is that Crawl Caye sits inside the South Water Marine Reserve, which is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. Environmentalists have contacted our newsroom so provide us with the opinion that all the major development to accommodate this cruise port will have major environmental impacts because of the close proximity to the Barrier Reef, which the website advertisement proudly boasts of as a perk to owning the island.

Another concern is that an extensive consultation done by the BTB indicates that cruise tourism may be a detriment to the country if it is opened up to the south, particularly because it would threaten the ecotourism model currently employed in that area. Those we’ve spoken to are particularly disturbed that the proposal is even being entertained as it would be in direct contravention to the recommendations made in those reports.

Finally, members of the local tourism sector based in Belize City are particularly threatened because they believe that the possibility exists that NCL will be given rights – which they can exercise if they so choose – to route other cruise lines to the south. Those stakeholders are of the opinion that this could destabilize cruise tourism in Belize City.

Things came to a head today when news went out that government officials would be meeting with executives from Norwegian Cruise Line at the BTB office in Belize City. 7News attempted to speak with Mike Singh, CEO of the Ministry of Trade, as he was about to enter that meeting.

It was our intention to confirm our reports and to clear up any misconceptions that was presented in our information, but Singh refused to entertain any interviews on the topic. Here’s how he responded when we approached him:

Daniel Ortiz
"I was told that you have a meeting with Norwegian Cruise Line in terms of an investment."

Mike Singh, CEO of the Ministry of Trade
"With who are you?"

Daniel Ortiz
"Channel 7"

Mike Singh
"Oh Okay. Sorry I didn't recognize you. But you know what I would prefer not commenting on it because we just ended discussion with them. So i'm not in a position to give a comment, unfortunately. Thank you"

Daniel Ortiz
"Ok then Sir"

We'll keep following up on this developing story, and try to catch up with all the relevant authorities on the topic.

Channel 7


Norwegian Cruise Line going to the south?

Is there a cruise ship port of call in the works for southern Belize? Talks of a massive tourism development project, to be spearheaded by Norwegian Cruise Line, has been bubbling below the surface for the past few weeks, despite strong objection from environmentalists, as well as residents of Placencia and surrounding communities. Crawl Caye, a small, coral-rimmed, mangrove island located within the South Water Caye Marine Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been chosen as the location for a deepwater docking facility in the Stann Creek District. The development, it is reported, will also see the construction of a world class resort and casino. In 2011, a report, commissioned by the Belize Tourism Board, presented by Seatone Consulting, indicated that such endeavor to introduce mass cruise tourism should not be undertaken in the area. That report succeeded public and private consultations with tourism stakeholders on the peninsula. This morning, a team of executives from Norwegian Cruise Line, accompanied by attorney Emil Arguelles, met with B.T.B. officials to discuss and finalize the development master plan. Several issues are being raised about the environmental impact the project would have on the protected area; including the transformation of the island from a rich marine ecosystem into a sandy beach. Of equal concern is that a green light from B.T.B. would also mean that the organization is contradicting its position on cruise tourism in the south, in spite of the findings of the 2011 report. News Five attempted to get a comment from Director of Tourism Laura Esquivel-Frampton, but we have been unsuccessful.

Channel 5

Posted By: Katie Valk

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/16/13 04:25 PM

People of Ambergris-this is your issue as much as for the people of Placencia. Placencia will need your solidarity to fend off this destructive type of tourism. Its not only a blight for Stann Creek and Toledo, it reflects heavily on the rest of the country and you will take the hit as well.
Posted By: robvee

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/16/13 05:28 PM

What is the opinion of most locals about cruise ship passengers coming ashore ? If you listen to passengers they think BC is a dump , and they dont really get to see the real Belize. Is there an answer that would please all ie could there be multiple land destinations , like a choice of coming to AC Its big biz, cant tell it to go away
Posted By: collyk

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/16/13 08:28 PM

This is what the Placencia Tour Operators Association had to say.

"Noting that its members voted this week to oppose cruise tourism, the association said cruise ship tourists would have a detrimental effect on its traditional overnight tourist business, which has “known economic benefits … outweighing possible economic benefits from cruise tourism.”
The association also argued mass tourism from cruise ships would result in adverse effects on the area’s fragile marine and inland environments such as coral reefs and fish and bird habitats.
The associated also cited the inability of Belize to enforce laws regulating cruise tourism; the inability of local tour operators to obtain affordable loans necessary to comply with cruise ship requirements such as size and quality of boats and vehicles and liability insurance; the lack of meaningful local control; the fact that local sites already are at or over carrying capacity without the ability to accommodate mass tourism numbers; and significantly fewer employment opportunities for Belizeans in cruise ship tourism than traditional overnight tourism.
The association also noted a lack of necessary infrastructure in southern Belize for mass cruise ship tourism, such as sewage treatment facilities; public restrooms; garbage collection and disposal; roads; and even water systems to provide drinking water in some locations.
“The cost of providing this infrastructure will run into the millions of dollars — money our governments don’t have – either nationally or locally," Placencia Standing Tall Against Cruise Ship Masses
Posted By: Katie Valk

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/16/13 09:58 PM

Now it is your issue. Your area rep and our Min of Tourism is backing the plan and there is discussion on whether to split some of the large cruise ship boats between Placencia and Ambergris Caye. But you're not in the discussion.
Posted By: robvee

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/16/13 10:05 PM

Geez Talk about being between a rock and a hard place, the tourist income would be welcome but not the tourists !!!
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/17/13 01:18 AM

Numerous studies have shown the negative impact and the hostage/cruise line relationship impact on countries. No one ever listens. The short term buck beats out the long term impact.
Posted By: robvee

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/17/13 04:02 AM

There are countries or cities that take huge numbers of cruise liner tourists without any problems I know this area has a lot of sensitive ecological areas, but cant something be worked out to everyones satisfaction
Posted By: seashell

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/17/13 04:16 AM

robvee, where are you getting your info?
Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/17/13 10:52 AM

Marine Biologist: Why Crawl Caye Doesn’t Make Sense

Last night, 7News told you about the proposed development in the south by the cruise tourism company, Norwegian Cruise Line. The development plan includes building a cruise port on Crawl Caye, which is near Placencia. Crawl Caye is a privately owned island currently on sale on the internet.

But because Crawl Caye sits inside a UNESCO World Heritage site, the environmentalists believe that GOB should not entertain the proposal at all.

We asked Dr. Melanie McField about her expert opinion on the topic.

She started by explaining that her organization has been having the very same difficulties our newsroom has been having in trying confirm the report.

Dr. Melanie McField – Executive Director, Healty Reefs Initiative
"We've heard bits and pieces mostly from the stakeholders in the Placencia area the resorts and the BTIA down there. People are beginning to talk about a deal or proposal that is under way for Crawl Caye which is primarily a Mangrove island ringed by coral reef. I think three sides of the island is surrounded by Coral Reef and it's inside the Southwater Caye Marine Reserve which is also one of the World Heritage site. The Tourist Board has commissioned two reports. One was in response to a previous discussion about whether or not to have a cruise terminal in Placencia a few years ago and they commissioned a consulting firm that came down and talked to people. There were consultations up and down the coast and all the communities. With the result of that it was very clear that the communities don't want it.

The only thing that should be considered is pocket cruise - the smaller cruise ships and they mentioned that Commerce Bite was probably the best port to put them into, so a little further north. So I would say that the board should look at their own reports, there was that report and there was the sustainable tourism master plan that was a multi-million dollar plan that was just finished last year and that clearly says the same thing. Not in Placencia and not mass tourism in that area because the area is not ready for it."

McField told us that GOB must consider the potential damage to the Barrier Reef, which is very near to Crawl Caye. Those include the cruise Ships’ large Footprint, the fact that they need deep waters to maneuver, the need for dredging in mangrove areas - which is illegal - the siltation of the coral reefs when these ships berth, and the garbage waste that the cruise tourists will generate.

Channel 7


Hon Hulse Speaks On Crawl Caye

Earlier on in the newscast we had marine biologist Melanie McField’s comments and concerns about the proposal for a Cruise Port in Southern Belize. Well, during her interview, Minister in charge of a Cabinet Investment Committee, Godwin Hulse called us. He told us that all the fuss that’s being raised is premature – because nothing has been agreed upon and talks are at a very preliminary stage. He said that the Cabinet Committee did meet with Norwegian Executives, but that was simply for government to lay out the regulatory parameters of what would be required for tourism, environment and fisheries before an investment is made. He said it is now up to Norwegian to take all this information back and decide if they want to proceed. He agreed that there is a draft Memorandum Of Understanding but that is a quote, “non-starter” because they “are not at that stage at all.”

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/18/13 10:49 AM

Hon Hulse Makes GOB Position Clear On Crawl Caye

Last night during the news, Minister Godwin Hulse, who’s chairing a cabinet Subcommittee on investment called us to outline the position with Norwegian Cruise Line and the discussion of a cruise port on Crawl Caye near Placencia. He re-iterated that to us in person today.







Hon. Godwin Hulse - Chair of Cabinet Subcommittee on Investment
"All the departments responsible for of government fisheries, environment, tourism met to lay to the potential investor what our parameters are and see if those are acceptable to them and we go from there so at this stage there is nothing to be jumping up and down. The potential investor is going to go back to see if he can meet and come back to us with a proposal and we go from there. That proposal then will be subject of an EIA and all the rest of parameters that are required before the investment can be made and we move forward. All investments must first of all be economically and sociably acceptable and must be legally doable. Two, it must bring some revenue to the Government. Tthree, it must be some foreign exchange into the country. Four, it must bring some absolutely meaningful jobs and I don't mean the little low level jobs. Five, it must be environmentally sustainable or improve the environment and if those criteria are met we are going to go."

As for an MOU which has been drafted, Hulse told us that is a quote, “non-starter” because they “are not at that stage at all.”

Channel 7


Norwegian Cruise Line and G.O.B. sign MOU for Crawl Caye development

Melanie McField

On Monday, a delegation of executives, representing Norwegian Cruise Line, met with government officials at the Belize Tourism Board office in Belize City to discuss the prospect of a mega infrastructure development project on Crawl Caye, off the coast of southern Belize.  The impressive undertaking, once approved, should see the total transformation of the small mangrove island into a first-rate tourist destination complete with docking facilities.  While negotiations are said to be in the nascent stage, concerns are being raised within the environmental community about the potential impact of such large-scale development, as well as the indemnities NCL will be receiving from government.  A draft Memorandum of Understanding between the company and the government reveals that the cruise line would be exempted from stamp taxes, customs duties and other tariff waivers over a thirty-year period.  Additionally, two fifteen-year extensions can be exercised at the individual discretion of NCL.  The company is also seeking a thirty-year concession as a port of call with multiple locations in the Stann Creek District with two supplementary allowances of fifteen years.  Dr. Melanie McField spoke with News Five today about the possible harmful effects of the construction on the marine environment.

Dr. Melanie McField, Environmentalist

“The first thing would be to look at the island itself and it’s primarily wet mangrove so anytime you want to do a large-scale development in mangroves that typically involves dredging and filling.  Now I’ve understood that they say their going to build some walkways because they’ve said they want to minimize that but there is still a lot of infrastructure to be able to service bathrooms and changing rooms and just facilities, gift shops.  I’m sure this would be, you know, there’s a lot of land surface you need to service thousands of people at once.  These are large boats, so they would be dredging and filling and creating land and I’m told that they’ve said they need seventy acres of dry land and that is not there right now.  So the actual dredging of the seabed is obviously, you know, an environmental impact that you can’t mitigate because you’re removing what’s there, it’s often sea grass.  There’s a lot of coral reef around this area, shoals.  There’s banks with shallow shoals that will have to be entirely removed for the ship to be able to get through there and on those shoals there’s sea grass bed sponges, coral reef.  Ringing the island is apparently a very healthy coral reef.”

In addition to what already seems to be requests for very generous consideration by the Government of Belize, the Memorandum of understanding also states that G.O.B. would be obligated to construct all necessary roads and basic infrastructure for cruise tours, support all required licenses, permits and permissions and allow all cruise lines using the authorized cruise port of entry in Southern Belize to keep casinos and shops open while in port. This is a story that we will keep following.

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/20/13 11:51 AM

CRAWL CAYE – NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE

by Captain John J Watson OBE
Dear Editor, Amandala

I noted the reported recent arrangements between GOB and the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) regarding the future development of Crawl Caye. Given NCL is majority owned by Apollo Global Management LLC, I wondered if the latter had conducted an in-depth risk assessment of the location before entering into discussions with GOB officials?

During and after Hurricane Keith in 2000, the Mauger Caye and adjacent Crawl Cay suffered substantial weather damage. Mauger Caye was near flattened, with the majority of the sand area of the north side being transported to the south by the severe elements leaving the roots of the palms completely exposed. The light keepers only survived because they were able to take shelter in a concrete bunker near the lighthouse accommodation, which itself completely disappeared as a result of Keith’s fury. Crawl Caye fared little better, and it has taken 13 years for both to recover.

Unlike other sites inside the Barrier Reef, Crawl Caye is wide open to the weather conditions to the north and east. Outside the immediate boundaries of the Caye, deep water lies to the north, east and west, and it is subjected to the transmitted ocean swells from weather conditions far removed from Belize in the north and east Caribbean Sea.

It follows that both these Cayes are unstable and any proposed development, such as the one currently being considered, will be difficult to achieve. It is questionable, even in these times of technological advancement, whether berthing facilities for cruise liners can be economically constructed when the water depth plummets from a few feet to over 1,000 feet 100 yards off-shore. Breakwater defences, if they could be constructed, would cost a massive amount of money and would be subject to the weather risks I have mentioned earlier.

In times of good weather, it is an idyllic place. I have been there! I also witnessed the conditions there in the aftermath of Keith and they were frightening.

I would simply advise Apollo Global and Norwegian Cruise lines that ‘All that glitters is not gold’.

Sincerely,
Captain John J Watson OBE
Ex-Port Commissioner Belize

Amandala

Posted By: DJGROSS

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/21/13 12:55 AM

I think that there may be some confusion here, as there are 2 "Crawl Cayes" in Belize. One Crawl Caye is out on Lighthouse Reef adjacent to Mauger Caye and would be very vulnerable to weather as noted by Captain Watson. But there's another Crawl Cay located off Placencia in the South Water Caye Marine Reserve. I believe that it is that one that NCL is considering?
//ambergriscaye.com/maps/art/Belize_Dive_Mapsm.jpg
Posted By: klcman

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/21/13 01:40 PM

read the first post, Mr Gross. That is exactly what is stated.
Posted By: DJGROSS

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 04/21/13 03:57 PM

klcman - I agree. Capt. Watson's comments relate to the Crawl Caye on Lighthouse reef - not the one near Placencia.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 05/01/13 11:30 AM

Will there be a Cruise Terminal at Crawl Caye?

Crawl Caye, a small island just off the Placencia mainland, has been the source of some contention lately. Norwegian Cruise Lines has approached the government about constructing a cruise terminal there, but one immediate concern is that the caye lies within the South Water Caye Marine Reserve, which is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. Environmentalists have told us that development of that sort will have a drastic effect on the environment. Early during his quarterly press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow mentioned the project as one of the highlights of investment promotion in Belize…but later stated that the project is by no means a done deal.

Jules Vasquez, Channel 7

“You spoke earlier in a superficial way about the Crawl Caye….the option for Crawl Caye. Are you taking into account the fact that it annexes a World Heritage Site and secondly that the National Tourism Master Plan also says that only pocket cruising should be reserved for the south of Belize?”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I said that this is pending environmental approval…maybe that was a little bit of a misrepresentation. Indeed the sub-committee which is supposed to be working with NCL, when last I heard was awaiting a report from the conservation people…the Ministry of forestry, Fisheries and the Environment as to whether any activity of the sort being contemplated could legally, properly take place at Crawl Caye and if the answer to that is yes, what are the limits to such activities. So while there is absolutely no doubt that Norwegian is dead serious, it may well be that in view of the considerations you have raised, the answer comes back from our professional people that this is simply not on.”

There have also been concerns raised by cruise ship stakeholders from Belize City, who are not pleased about the rights and incentives they say are being offered to Norwegian Cruise Lines by the government.

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 05/28/13 09:27 PM

Mike Singh was on Open Your Eyes this A.M. and saying this Crawl Caye cruise development is going to cabinet - no consult with village, just straight to cabinet.

That's right - next Tuesday. They're going to make this look like a completely ex-pat thing - and say that all the tour guides, tour operators, and Belizeans in Placencia are in favor. They're also going to try to isolate Placencia Village and treat us as an anomaly.

DEAL POINTS UNDER THE CURRENT PROPOSALS

• NCL would get:
o Exemptions from stamp taxes, customs duties and general tax holidays/waivers for a period of 30 years, with two 15-year-extensions that can be exercised by the cruise line, at its sole discretion – negotiations with GOB – they just get these extensions of they want them;
o An exclusive 30-year concession as a cruise port of entry at multiple locations in the Stann Creek District in southern Belize, plus two 15-year- extensions that can be exercised by the cruise line, at its sole discretion – no permission from GOB needed for these extensions – all NCL needs to do is say they want to extend them; and
o All port fees for the calls of all cruise ships in southern Belize, regardless of which cruise line pays the port fees;
o The right to hire 25% non-Belizeans to work in their cruise operations – no requirement that Belizeans must be hired in any particular type of job – no requirement for Belizeans to have management positions, for example;

• The Government of Belize would have to:
o Construct all roads and infrastructure for cruise tours (such as sewage treatment, restrooms, garbage disposal and buildings;
o Actively help NCL get all required licenses, permits and permissions including mining and dredging, environmental approvals, trade licenses, construction permits, Central Bank foreign investor permits, foreign exchange dealer permits, tour guide and tendering ferry permits, port related permits, hotel licenses, labor/immigration permits, liquor license and casino license; and
o Allow all cruise lines using the authorized cruise port of entry in southern Belize to keep casinos and shops open while in port
Note: this is currently not allowed in Belize
• The cruise line has to:
o Invest not less than US$50 million in the project in the Stann Creek District;
o Transfer technical expertise, knowledge and training opportunities to Belizean employees.

Other Issues:
• Crawl Caye is within the Southwater Caye Marine Reserve, which is included in the larger World Heritage Site, and the caye is near the heart of some of Belize’s most pristine patchreefs and shallow coral/mangrove reef complex, and some of the most biologically diverse marine areas in Belize. In fact, the World Heritage Commission specifically called out the Southwater Marine Reserve as an especially important marine area, hosting sea life found nowhere else in the Caribbean. In addition, Crawl Caye is surrounded by corals. Yet, NCL wants permission to cut and fill almost the entire 50 acre caye of mangrove plus dredge an additional 20 acres of seabed to create more land.
• Ships are mega ships, not pocket cruise ships – meaning a minimum of 2000 passengers (plus 800-1000 crew members), often 4000 or more passengers and crew. Mega ships would enter Belizean waters at English Caye and cruise down the inner channel to Crawl Caye, exiting either the same way or south of Hunting Caye. This creates huge implications for pollution, navigation errors, loss of power, oil spills and dumping - all of which have become common with the cruise ships in the last 5 years.
• With only two ships of 4000 people each at the caye, what are the effects of so many divers/ snorkelers/ swimmers/ fishers/wave runners and water skiers on the reefs and marine life?
• What will be the effect of this many day-trippers on small inland sites such as Lubaantun, Nim Li Punit, Monkey River – and very pristine sites such as Cockscsomb?
• By having a caye as a port, NCL can eliminate ALL independent tour operators, and thus control every aspect of its operations in southern Belize, including food, tours, entertainment and transportation. NCL can simply deny access to any independents who might want to sell tours, crafts or food to cruise ship tourists.
Please also remember that the Belize government, through the BTB, commissioned Tourism & Leisure, Europraxis Consulting, to develop a sustainable development plan, National Sustainable Master Tourism Plan for Belize 2030, which was released in June 2010. (A copy of the executive summary of the plan is available at http://www.pcsdbelize.org/sustainable-tourism.pdf )

This Sustainable Master Tourism Plan specifically states that “pocket cruise tourism is the only acceptable form of cruise tourism in South Eastern Coast Belize” (the area in which the Stann Creek District is located) and only in areas of new development in the northern portion of this section of the Belize coast.”

The Sustainable Master Tourism Plan further mandates that

“[t]his distinctive destination will be hosting a chain of mid to low density sun & beach resorts, a chain of charming villages such as Placencia, Hopkins and Dangriga along with pristine and attractive beaches. This area will host mid-high end markets drawn by sun & beach, marine life and rainforest motivations; as well as it will become the main hub for nautical tourism development and the first to attract the pocket cruise market.

For the far southern portion of Belize (including its coast), the plan stipulates that the Southern Belize area

. . . will become highly attractive to hard adventure travelers and ecotravelers for its unspoiled nature allure, conceptualized adventure travel sports activities and facilities, community tourism attractions. In a second order it will develop cultural tourism heritage and living culture while integrating local rural communities. In another level it will be a sun & beach and nautical tourism destination for those attracted to more secluded areas.

WILL THE BENEFIT TO BELIZE OUTWEIGH THE COSTS OF INFRASTRUCTURE AND DAMAGE TO THE ENVIRONMENT? WILL AN ECONOMIC IMPACT ASSESSMENT BE DONE AS WELL AS AN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT?

MEDIA CONTACTS

Government

• Honorable Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize:
o Email: secretarypm@opm.gov.bz

• Honorable Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
o Email: mheredia@travelbelize.org

• Honorable Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forests, Fisheries and Sustainable Development
o Email: minister@ffsd.gov.bz

Media:

• Channel 5:
o Email: newsdirector@channel5belize.com
o Phone: 223-4936
• Channel 7:
o Email: jules.vasquez@gmail.com
o Phone: 223-5589
• CTV 3:
o Email: lealcoser@hotmail.com
o Phone: 670-2216 or 322-2216
• KREM Radio
o Email: contact@krembz.com
o Phone: 222-4220
• Plus TV
o Email: plustelevision@yahoo.com
o Phone: 822-2536
• PGTV
o Email: pgwil@pnpbelize.org
o Phone: 610-0973, 678-8309, 672-9999
• Love FM
o Email: lovefmbelize@yahoo.com
o Phone: 203-2098 or 203-0528
• Love Television
o Text: 630-1289
o Phone: 203-2098 or 203-0528
• Wave Radio
o Email: waveradio105_9@yahoo.com
o Phone: 202-5361 or 202-5360
• Integrity Radio
o Email: integrityradio@yahoo.com
• PowerFM
o Email: ttmbelize@gmail.com
o Phone: 223-3311
• Amandala Newspaper
o Email: Editor_amandala@yahoo.com
o Phone: 202-4476 or 202-4477 or 202-4703
• Reporter Newspaper
o Email: reporternewspaper@gmail.com and editoreporter@gmail.com
o Phone: 227-2503 or 227-1767
• San Pedro Sun
o Email: info@sanpedrosun.com
o Phone: 226-2070
• San Pedro Daily
o Email: Editor.SanPedroDaily@gmail.com
o Phone:
• Star Newspaper
o Email: starnewspaper@gmail.com
o Phone:
• Capital Weekly
o Email: capitalweeklybzebmp@gmail.com
o Phone: 802-1284
Posted By: Katie Valk

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 05/29/13 10:31 PM

Dear Placencia BTIA Members:

The following is a copy of the letter we sent to Cabinet today.

Jolie

---
At a special meeting called this morning (Wednesday, May 29), the board of directors of the Placencia Chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), passed a unanimous resolution calling on Cabinet to reject a proposal by Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) to establish a major cruise port at Crawl Caye. The 50 acre island, largely covered by mangrove, sits within a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located six miles east of the Placencia Peninsula.

For the past two weeks, the Placencia BTIA has been soliciting its members for their opinions on the proposal and have received an overwhelming response in opposition to the mass tourism project. The Placencia BTIA Board and its concerned members have highlighted the following points for Cabinet’s consideration:

1. The NCL project does not fall within the Government’s recently approved Tourism Master Plan, which specifically limits southern Belize to “pocket” cruising in ships of under 250 passengers..
2. The independent study commissioned by the BTB in 2011 clearly and emphatically advises against the introduction of cruise tourism to southern Belize.
3. The establishment of a cruise port within a marine protected area and a World Heritage Site makes a mockery of Belize’s reputation as a nation that protects its environment.
4. The NCL project, by moving ships to the new southern port, greatly threatens the sustainability of the cruise ship industry in Belize City and the livelihood of those who have invested and work there.
5. The NCL project, by turning southern Belize into a mass tourism destination, directly threatens the health of the area’s well established overnight tourism industry which is based on authenticity and an “off the beaten track” experience.

We trust that Cabinet will consider the overwhelming arguments against allowing the project to go forward and will immediately cease further consideration of the NCL proposal.

Sincerely,

Jolie Pollard
Executive Director
Placencia BTIA
On behalf of the board of directors:

Stewart Krohn, Chairman
Steve Christensen, Vice-Chairman
Doran Yount, Secretary
David Vernon, Treasurer
Evan Hall, Councilor
Salvador Zabaneh, Councilor
Ilsa Villanueva, Councilor
Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 05/30/13 11:05 AM

In April we told you about meetings to discuss the interest Norwegian Cruise Lines has in building a Cruise Port on Crawl Caye in Southern Belize. At the time, the Ministerial Chair of a Cabinet Investment Committee Godwin Hulse told us talks were very preliminary and while a Memorandum of Understanding existed it was not on the table. That was a six weeks ago, but in the past few days, the buzz and the blowback over the project has ramped up exponentially, fuelled by reports that Cabinet will decide on the Memorandum of Understanding as early as next week!

That sense of urgency has unleashed an aggressive anti-port information campaign, and a letter writing initiative, all designed to torpedo the project.

The Belize Tourism Industry Association has also lent its voice to the campaign. The influential industry group issued a statement saying, quote, The BTIA stands firmly against this proposed establishment in Southern Belize, and adds that “ By opening the Southern portion of the country to large scale cruise ship visitation, the proposal fundamentally contradicts the country's tourism master plan and irrevocably positions Belize as a mass tourism destination. This 180 degree shift from Belize's identity as an authentic ecocultural destination is inexplicable in view of the uninterrupted success of Belize's dynamic overnight tourism sector.” The release also notes that

“the establishment of a large cruise port in southern Belize would eventually draw ships away from Belize City causing a significant loss on…investments being done today, as well as…a…loss of income and jobs to those tour operators, guides, tender owners, bus drivers, taxis, craft sellers and other service providers…”

It closes by urging

“Cabinet and the Minister of Tourism to reject the proposed project outright and immediately.”

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 05/30/13 11:24 AM

B.T.I.A. joins Placencia residents against mega cruise port development

There is another issue that is moving to the front burner. Crawl Caye which is located in the South Water Caye Marine Reserve is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But all indications are that Norwegian Cruise Line is well underway to purchase the caye from four individuals for a mega tourism project. On the government side, Minister Godwin Hulse is heading a sub-committee. While he is said to support the project, it is known that two other cabinet ministers are dead set against it. The project has come under harsh opposition from Placencia residents and today, the Belize Tourism Industry Association (B.T.I.A.) joined the chorus of rejection of the project. The proposed deal with the cruise line is for an exclusive thirty year concession for Stann Creek District as a cruise port of entry with a second location on Crawl Caye. It would include exemptions on import duties, income tax, general sales tax among other incentives. It also includes the use of foreign labor, fast tracking of permits, including environmental, construction, dredging and filling permits and operation of passenger tenders. The legal transactions are being conducted through Emil Arguelles from Arguelles and Associates. He is a director on the Belize Tourism Board and his brother Carlo Arguelles is also involved with the project. Following on a release issued today, News Five spoke to President of the B.T.I.A., Herbert Haylock, who says that for one, the development will take away from the upgrades currently being done to Belize City in the area of the current tourist village.

Herbert Haylock

Herbert Haylock, President, B.T.I.A.

“B.T.I.A. as an organization has taken a position to say that we are not for this particular development and we have outlined some reasons why we are not for this development. And I think when we look at the specifics of that, there are some key concerns that we have. The ones immediately that we’ve highlighted look at the economics of the situation. We have listed in the release that we have some serious concerns as it relates to the intent from what it would look like and seem at this point in time to consider opening and developing a new area in the south of the country. And when we look at that situation, we have not necessarily considered and looked at how the industry, the sector specifically, and the government has consolidated what is currently on the ground. And we have highlighted some of that in the press release. So we are pointing to the developments that have been taking place and that are on the ground right now; for example, in the Fort George Tourism Area. We are saying that there has to be some consolidation efforts put forward on that particular front first and foremost and it is a massive investment that has been put in place from the sustainable tourism project. That’s one of the things that has to be contemplated. I think when we expand that beyond in terms of the economic argument, you look at the opportunities that the city council, for example, has put on the ground in terms of developing the infrastructure of this city. We all understand that yes, it is for the benefit of the residents and yes, it is for the benefit of the city in terms of infrastructure. But we understand too that spills over. And that spill over does take into account the issues as it relates to cruise traffic around the city and people moving around the city. And for the betterment for that particular product that is being promoted from the city in terms of a specific opportunity. That is one area. We’ve not also expanded on, but we’ve cited and highlighted the issues environmentally that are concerns for us at this point in time given what we understand to be the specific location fo this particular development.”


…And serious socio-economic implications for Belize City and Placencia

By all accounts the memorandum of understanding includes the ability for the company to open casinos and become an authorized foreign exchange dealer.  The Sustainable Tourism Project, which was financed by the Inter-American Development Bank, hired a consultant in 2011 who concluded that, “Pocket cruise tourism is the only acceptable form of cruise tourism on the southeastern coast of Belize.” B.T.I.A. President, Herbert Haylock, went further and discussed the socio-economic implications for Placencia because unchecked cruise tourism can have an effect not only on overnight stays at hotels in the area, but there is also an environmental impact to be considered.

Herbert Haylock, President, B.T.I.A.

Herbert Haylock

“At this point Jose, and again anyone can take a look at this document—because it is a public document and cabinet has endorsed the national sustainable tourism master plan. That particular document has called for development of the south, but not at the level at which this particular would seem to want to take things. And it is looked at only development as the view of having it be pocket tourism, which when defined looks at tourism that stays within the realm of two hundred to two hundred and fifty persons on a particular ship in that area—again with the intent of it being sustainable because of again the infrastructure we are looking at in that particular location. When we look at this particular development, we are looking at an initiative that has a development that would be on the ground that basically takes into account ships with the magnitude of two thousand plus visiting; and that is current capacity in terms of NCL ships at this point in time and others. We know that there are larger ships that may perhaps look at this as an opportune location to maybe shift and move. And when we begin to marry those issues and marry those concerns—and I think that is one of the reasons why we decided to take this public stand—that there are some very serious economic issues that need to be contemplated in this matter and really considered. As you know, the industry from point of view of the cruise sector has been and continues to play a significant part of this city’s development and growth. And at end of day, the shifting of this particular development to the south, may ultimately impact that and we are saying we have not even gotten to the point of consolidating what we currently have at this point in time. We really want the individuals who are currently viewing this—and against the key government officials involved in this process—to really understand that they have and the government has accepted or put in place what is a policy by accepting the master plan via the cabinet. And we are looking at that critically because that was done just a few months ago at the latter part of last year. Are we now contemplating, are we now saying that we are totally revisiting that? Are we now ignoring that completely? Has it just been put on a shelf? Those are the questions that we now need to bring to light and say…Why is there an urgency? Why is there a rush for this development? Those are the type of things that we are now starting to get as feedback. We want and we have asked for answers. We’ve asked for clarity on certain particular points as it relates to this development and quite frankly we have not received that information.”

This morning, our emails were flooded with local and foreign opposition to the NCL project which is expected to go before cabinet for approval next week.

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 05/31/13 11:06 AM

Cabinet’s Position On Crawl Caye

Last night, 7New told you about the mass concerns coming from the BTIA, environmentalists and private tourism interests in relation to the proposal from Norwegian Cruise Line to build a cruise port on Crawl Caye in Southern Belize.

As we reported, rumors spread that the Government committee reviewing the proposal intended to decide on a Memorandum of Understanding with NCL as early as next week. This caused the concerned stakeholders to start a letter campaign to torpedo the project.

Well, today, 7News got an opportunity to speak to Minister Godwin Hulse, the chairman of the committee looking at the proposal, and he discussed Government’s position on the proposal at this current moment.

He also discussed the public concerns which have been ventilated via the media.

Hon. Godwin Hulse - Minister of Labour
"Here's the position - NCL has made a proposal. There's a committee of the cabinet which I chair made up of other ministers, Heredia (Tourism), Castillo (Economic Development), Alamilla (Environment) and of course Minister Contreras (Trade) and myself basically as Minister of Labour - those are the areas which government has concerns with any investment. Initially we met with NCL and out of that meeting came a requirement that the NCL technical people meet with our technical people to determine the technical parameters of doing a facility on the proposed island. That meeting took place - our technical people advised NCL's technical people of what may or may not be acceptable. They went back to their drawing board and have now come back with a revised proposal which apparently should fit within those parameters. The technical people are now sitting with that as we speak to see whether in fact that matches the proposals that the recommendations they have made. We will meet next week on Monday to discuss those at which time we will know whether in fact those requirements are met or not by the proposal that NCL has. Thereafter, we would have to then go to another level which is if we're going to move ahead we would need an EIA which then involves public consultation. After that stage then we would be looking at whatever Memorandum of Understanding we could do, we're not at that stage yet. Remember I had laid out clearly that there are 5 parameters for investment in this country that Cabinet has set. The first being that it should be socially economically acceptable and legally doable. Two, it should bring some revenue to the government of Belize. Three, it should bring some meaningful employment, I don't mean the minimum wage employment, I mean at the higher level. Four, it should bring some foreign exchange. Five, it should preserve the environment and possibly enhance it. If those criteria’s and parameters are met then we are good to go."

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir, but the environmentalists are concerned that the proposal is even being entertained because they are saying that it has the ability for us to be de-listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the particular island that is being proposed. Has that issued been addressed so far with the government and the NCL representatives?"

Hon. Godwin Hulse
"Well I hope the environmentalists don't think we are silly. Clearly I have laid out the five parameters and the last one I left specifically for last for emphasis that it enhances the environment or at least sustains the environment. So we're very cognizant of that and we're not reckless so we're not about to engage in anything that will our environment, that will destroy our relationships we have with international agencies and destroy the very essence of what Tourism in Belize is, so I hope they don't think we're stupid."

Hulse says that if and when the proposal reaches the Environmental Assessment stage, those in the public will be able to voice their concerns, and if the public is unanimously against it, then Government will respect that.


Cruise Terminal On Crawl Caye, to Be Or Not To Be?

Before the commercial break you heard Minister Godwin Hulse speak about Norwegian Cruise Line and its interest in putting a Cruise Port on Crawl Caye. Hulse is the Chairman of an investment subcommittee assigned by cabinet to look at the matter – but the Prime Minister – in a sense is the “decider.” Today he told us government is obligated to look at Norwegian’s Officer, but they are in no rush.

Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minster of Belize
"Norwegian is talking about an investment of possibly a hundred million dollars, at least in my view, given the need for employment especially in the need for opportunities, government must have the conversation that it is having with Norwegian. Given the location of Crawl Caye, cabinet insisted that the relevant ministries do the proper assessment to ensure that we could even do a project there and that if we could in what ways the project would have to be limited. I see the BTIA saying, 'oh this is going to be a kind of free for all' Norwegian brings hundreds and hundreds of cruise passengers. There is no way we are going to move in any precipitous fashion on this thing, I don't know whether we will move at all but the conversation must occur because you simply don't turn away this potentially huge investment without making absolutely sure that this cannot happen in the larger scheme of things in the larger national."

Jules Vasquez
"In the terms of the MOU are you agreeable?"

Hon. Dean Barrow
"I don't know that I've seen the terms of any MOU, there is a subcommittee, there may be a draft MOU, certainly no MOU has been brought to cabinet but if it's gone beyond the draft stage it can't be no more than and MOU, a Memorandum of Understanding. It can't be any contract, it can't contain obligations at all, the cabinet subcommittee would never do that and if they did the government would reject that sort of thing. As far as I know the process is no where near the point where cabinet can make a decision as to whether to proceed. I've also heard that 'oh this may be good to go as early as next week' absolutely not true. This thing is going through the various protocols in a slow and stately fashion."

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 05/31/13 11:30 AM

P.M. says Placencia tour guides want Norwegian Cruise Line in peninsula

Earlier in the newscast, you heard Healthy Reef opposing the Norwegian Cruise Line’s interest in Crawl Caye. That mega tourism project also elicited a response from the Prime Minister at today’s press conference. The PM said that there is no contract with NCL and there is no final deal. But the government can’t ignore a proposal that would include an investment of over a hundred million dollars and also provide jobs for locals. As to the response that the BTIA, FECTAB and Healthy Reef Initiative are all against the project, Barrow says that there is a tour guide group in  Placencia that welcomes NCL to the Peninsula.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I’ve had a letter from Placencia Tour Guides Association and I think they appended to that letter a petition with a number of signatures. The thrust of that letter is that they fully support the Crawl Caye Project and that the village according to them in the large majority supports the Crawl Caye Project. In informal conversation with one of the officials from that organization, there is a feeling that the big hoteliers have their all-inclusive resorts: they do their own touring, they do their own dive, and there set and it is wonderful. And we all certainly rejoice over the fact that overnight tourism is surging. But they think that there is a lot that they can get out of cruise tourism. Norwegian is talking about an investment of possibly a hundred million dollars. At least I my view, given the need for employment especially in that area, given the need for opportunities, government must have the conversation that it is having with Norwegian. Given then location of Crawl Caye, cabinet insisted that the relevant ministries do the proper assessment to ensure that we could even do the project there. And that if we could in what ways the project would have to be limited. I hear B.T.I.A. saying that this is going to be a kind of free for all; Norwegian brings hundreds and hundreds of cruise passengers in their big ships. Well if we go ahead, one of the limitations might be that you can only bring a small ship. So what I have to say ultimately is please, I don’t think the B.T.I.A. ought to get ahead of itself. I understand that they want to signal from now their opposition, but government will take on board their point of view, government will take on board the point of view of any number of persons including the Placencia Tour Guides Association and in particular, the advice of the technical people. There is concern I see that B.T.I.A. raised in terms of heritage location and that sort of thing. There is no way that we are going to move in a precipitous fashion on this thing.  I don’t know whether we will move at all, but the conversation must occur because you simply don’t just turn away this potentially huge investment without making absolutely sure that this cannot happen in the larger scheme of things. I don’t know that I have seen the terms of any MOU. I don’t…there is a subcommittee. There may have been a draft MOU; certainly no MOU has been brought to cabinet. But if it has gone beyond the draft state, it can’t be more than just a MOU, a Memorandum of Understanding; it can’t be any contract, it can’t contain obligations at all. The cabinet subcommittee would never do that and if they did, government would reject that sort of thing.”

Jose Sanchez

“It also makes reference to hiring foreign workers; it doesn’t make reference to the need to hire locals.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Well Jose I am telling you that if an MOU exists that is by no means the last word and that can have no contractual obligations; can have no legal standing. That was not the remit of the Cabinet Sub-Committee is not to enter into any kind of a binding obligation. As far as I know the process is nowhere near the point where cabinet can make a decision as to whether proceed. I also heard that this may be good to go as early as next week.


Healthy Reefs joins B.T.I.A. and FECTAB against Norwegian Cruise Line

The cruise tourism project proposed by giant Norwegian Cruise Lines for Crawl Caye in the south of Belize is going before Cabinet for their approval, and one organization committed to the long term integrity of the reef is doing everything it can to ensure that doesn’t happen. In a letter to Prime Minister Dean Barrow Director of the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative expresses strong concern about the project and calls for a firm rejection of the proposal. McField asks the question – how could this development possibly be worth it? And today she explained the rationale behind her organization’s position.

Melanie McField, Director, Healthy Reefs Initiative

Melanie McField

“Our letter to the Prime Minister focused on one fundamental question: Could this proposal possibly be worth it. And we grounded our view on four main points. One being the environmental repercussions—they are unavoidable and irreparable; the damages that would occur to that reef system, the mangrove and sea grass all there where they would have to dredge and fill and create the port; that’s very clear. The second point was the World heritage Site. We were listed on the sites endangered due to coastal development in 2009. We’ve been examined every year, we haven’t gotten out of this state; we were hoping we were getting closer because we’ve had some progress. And now this would just totally set us back and I think it is a serious real danger of actually being delisted as a world heritage site. The other two points, one was looking at Placencia as a destination and we have been involved in all of these planning processes over the years. I mean you give your time to all these processes, creating plans and we talk and talk. We have all these wonderful plans on the shelf and we are ignoring them. All the plans have said keep the south free of cruise tourism. Overnight tourism is booming; that provides many more jobs, much more revenue stays in the country. So why mess that up by bringing in cruise tourism? Because it does mess it up; you can’t have both coexist very happily. The good thing about the cruise industry in Belize City, we don’t have a large overnight tourism industry here and it adds a value to the city and we’ve already invested. We got people doing this for their livelihoods; they’ve taken out loans. They’ve built a life off of the policy that the government stated which was we are only allowing cruise ships in Belize City. So they felt confident to go take a loan, build a bigger boat, buy buses; whatever. So in terms of both the national tourism strategy and plans and what it would do to the Placencia area is negative. What it would do to Belize City is to me the worse of all; that’s thousands of people depending on the cruise ships now for at least part of their income. So it will be a big blow to a lot of people and I can’t see how if the government had given enough consideration how they could come out thinking that its benefits outweigh all these costs.”

Mcfield is asking the Prime Minister for a seat at the discussion table where she says they can jointly examine the costs and benefits to Belize. From what she’s seen so far, McField maintains, only Norwegian Cruise Lines seems to benefit from the proposal.

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 06/01/13 11:03 AM


Government Explores Possibility for Crawl Caye Project; PM Explains Payment Voucher in Question

Since tourism investors and environmentalists have raised concerns over a proposal put forth by Norwegian Cruise Line to construct a cruise tourism port on Crawl Caye, the discussion on the issue has remained current. On Thursday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said that while there may be an existing Memorandum of Understanding with Norwegian, that doesn’t mean that it will translate into overnight development.

Rt. Hon. DEAN BARROW

“I’ve had a letter from the Placencia Tour Guides Association and I think, they appended to that letter, a petition with a number of signatures. The thrust of that letter is that they fully support the Crawl Caye project and that the village in a large majority supports the Crawl Caye Project. In formal conversations with one of the officials from that organization, there’s a feeling that the big hoteliers have their all-inclusive resorts; they do their own touring, they do their own dive work and they are set and it’s wonderful and we all certainly rejoice over the fact that overnight tourism is surging but they think that there is a lot they can get out of cruise tourism. Norwegian is talking about an investment of possible a hundred million dollars, at least, in my view, given the need for employment in that area, given the need for opportunities, government must have the conversation that it is having with Norwegian. Given the location of Crawl Caye, Cabinet insisted that the relevant ministries do the proper assessment to ensure that we could even do a project there and that if we could, in what ways the project would have to be limited. I see, the BTIA is saying, ‘this is going to be a kind of free for all; Norwegian brings hundreds and hundreds of cruise passengers in their big ships’; well, if we go ahead, one of the limitations might be that you can only bring a small ship. So, what I have to say is, ultimately, I don’t think that the BTIA ought to get ahead of itself. I understand that they want to signal from now, their opposition but Government will take on board their points of view; government will take on board the point of view of any number of persons including the Placencia Tour Guide Association and in particular the advice of the technical people. There are concerns that BTIA raised about heritage locations and that sort of thing; there is no way that we’re going to move in any precipitous fashion in this thing, I don’t know if we will move at all but the conversation must occur because you simply don’t turn away this potentially huge investment without making absolutely sure that this cannot happen in a larger scheme of things. If an MOU exists, that is by no means the last word and that can have no contractual obligations and can have no legal standings; the remit of the Cabinet subcommittee is not to enter into any kind of a binding obligation; as far as I know, the process is nowhere near the point where Cabinet can make a decision on whether or not to proceed. I have also heard that this may be good to go as early as next week; that is absolutely not true, this thing is going through the various protocols in a slow and stately fashion.”

Reporters also asked Mr. Barrow to comment on contracts were given for the paving of the San Antonio Road in Orange Walk, but the work was never done.

Rt. Hon. DEAN BARROW

“There is no doubt that some contracts were signed for work on the San Antonio Road; those contracts were cancelled. Financial Secretary has confirms that the money that was allocated, his permission was sought in the shifting of the funds instead to do work in the Otro Benque area which you will be delighted to know, no doubt is in the constituency of the Deputy Prime Minister. I don’t know that the FS knew which works were to replace the San Antonio works that had been contracted for but he gave permission for the reallocation of the funds. The District Engineer, Mr. Graciano Medina confirms that his file will contain a note showing that, in fact, the San Antonio Road contract were cancelled and he is saying, Minister Boots Martinez says that he has some pen and ink (handwriting) notes to bear this out that the monies were used to do these various works in the Otro Benque area. What remains a mystery is why payments were made that on the face of them, evidenced that these payments were being done in connection with contracts that had already been cancelled. I haven’t spoken to Mr. Medina directly, but the reports are that he is saying that it was a frenzied time and everybody was under pressure and so that was a mistake. I can’t simply leave it there and the Ministry of Finance is asking that all this be documented in writing to the Ministry of Works and in particular, that official must say this to us, put it on record and then we go from there but that is the position. It is still unsatisfactory but certainly not as unsatisfactory as it would have been if in fact there had been no cancellation of the San Antonio Road contract and if in fact it would have been as the story, on the basis of the then available facts suggested that Imer Hernandez was paid for work on the San Antonio Road when in fact, under a contract which he did not perform.”

LOVE TV


DR. MELANIE MCFIELD WRITES PM BARROW

Amandala Letters — by Melanie McField, PhD

Dear Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Barrow,

I write to formally express our strong concern over the proposed NCL cruise terminal on Crawl Caye and our hope that Cabinet will conclude the entertaining of this idea with a firm rejection. Our fundamental question to the government is: How could this development possibly be worth it? We acknowledge that cruise passengers would have an improved experience and NCL would make massive additional profits by exercising complete control over their island base, but at what cost to Belize and Belizeans?

The costs are substantial, unavoidable, and irreversible; and include:

1) Environmental costs: Crawl Caye is a fragile mangrove island surrounded by fringing coral reefs. These inshore coral reefs have recently been shown to harbor more robust and resilient corals than the outer barrier reef, and could help our reef system adapt to the changing global climate if they remain free from localized stress and injury. Construction of the cruise terminal would involve massive mangrove clearing and marine dredging, which would severely damage or destroy the fringing reef, seagrass beds, and mangrove forest – all critical marine ecosystems supporting fisheries, tourism and biodiversity. In addition to the unavoidable direct impacts of construction are the chronic impacts from having thousands of people daily visiting this and nearby fragile areas. Finally, there is the additional risk of having a ship grounding, possibly including an oil spill, as these massive ships would be traversing the entire southern lagoon and out by Sapodilla Cayes. Given our lack of a functional oil spill response plan, it would be irresponsible to allow this additional risk into the heart of our marine ecosystem.

2) Probable loss of our World Heritage Site. In 2009 our Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System was inscribed on the list World Heritage Sites in Danger, due to “the sale and lease of public lands for the purposes of development within the property leading to the destruction of mangrove and marine ecosystems.”

The main incident provoking this danger listing was the dredging and filling of Pelican Cayes, a biodiversity hotspot located a mere 5 miles away from Crawl Caye, with both cayes being inside the South Water Caye Marine Reserve.

The World Heritage Commission further requested that Belize:

a)”Implement the necessary legal measures to guarantee the permanent cessation of the sale and lease of lands throughout the property, and the cessation of mangrove cutting, coral dredging and other associated real estate development activities; and b) Ensure that development rights on existing private or leased lands within the property are clearly defined and strictly controlled with a view to conserving the Outstanding Universal Value of the property”.

Clearly a mass cruise ship terminal is in direct contravention of this request and would likely result in our permanent de-listing as a World Heritage Site.

3) Degradation of the value of two of the main tourism destinations: Placencia and Hopkins. As one of many participants in many public consultations about cruise-tourism and coastal development, including the Seatone Report, the Sustainable Tourism Project and Master Planning Process, and the recent Coastal Zone Planning Process, we stand by their conclusions that Southern Belize remain free from mass cruise tourism, which is known to cheapen the tourism product and accelerate natural resource degradation. The South should remain solidly grounded in overnight high-end or small-scale eco-tourism, which contributes much more revenue to the local population and provides better livelihood options for the people.

4) Increased economic hardship in Belize City. Many city residents are extremely concerned about the socio-economic repercussions of large-scale cruise ship abandonment of Belize City. This proposed change to the cruise policy is insensitive to the thousands Belizeans who have invested, large or small, in the cruise industry. Their investments were founded on a clear governmental policy that only allowed mass cruise tourism in Belize City. This large Belize City cruise-constituency would take the brunt of the economic blow from the cruise industry’s abandonment of Belize City. Belize City Council would also feel the loss of probably 2/3 the cruise tax and other cruise-based revenues (estimated at about $14million/yr). All this just as Mayor Bradley’s city refurbishment is well underway, including the Fort George tourism zone, which would likely fail to achieve the needed numbers to support the vendors.

Given that neither NCL nor GOB have provided the public with even a rough draft of a comprehensive national cost-benefit analysis of this project, nor the proposed conditions or fiscal incentives of any draft MOU, civil society is thus unable to make more specific comments at this time. We hereby request a seat at the discussion table.

Together we could better fully examine the fundamental question of total cost and benefits to Belize of this proposal, given the high environmental, social, and economic costs to the people and resources of Belize? The burden of such proof should be on the shoulders of NCL, since they are essentially asking Belize to abandon all of our existing tourism policies and plans, and likely to give up our Belize Barrier Reef World Heritage Site in order for their private company to enjoy expanded profits.

Sincerely,
Melanie McField, PhD
Director, Healthy Reefs Initiative
Cc: Cabinet Ministers and Belize media

Amandala

Posted By: Katie Valk

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 06/01/13 12:55 PM

Of note, the Placencia Tour Guides wrote that letter of support in 2011 and only approved ships of less than 500 passengers/one ship per day/ 3 times per week. Crawl Caye was not in play at the time, so what was not discussed was
-Enviromnental destruction of Crawl Caye and reef
-Crawl Caye is in Sout Water Caye Marine Reserve and is a Unesco Heritage site. Belize will loose its designation as such if we allow any development in the reserve
-Crawl Caye proposal is a self contained caye. The cruise ship has control over everything, including tour operators and guides, who approved a tourist village on the village, open to villagers so they can access passengers for trips. This proposal shuts them all out.
This is such a bad idea, the PM will be embarassed it has gotten this far with Cabinet.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 06/04/13 11:23 AM

GOB Continue Talks On NCL Proposal

Last week, 7News showed you the position from Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Cabinet Committee Chair Minister Godwin Hulse on the continued discussion to possibly develop cruise tourism in Southern Belize.

Norwegian Cruise Line has tabled a proposal before Government in which they want to build a cruise port on Crawl Caye to access Placencia. As has widely been reported, local private cruise interests, the BTIA, and organizations within the environmental community in Belize are staunchly against it, and they’ve gone as far as to condemn it.

GOB says that given that this investment could be no less than 100 million dollars, they have an obligation at least discuss this with NCL.

Today, the Cabinet Committee tasked to hear the proposal met at the BTB office in Belize to discuss its environmental aspects. 7News waited outside the office to speak with them, and when they came out, they chose not to disclose much until the Cabinet is aware of their findings.

Jose Sanchez - Channel 5 News
"We've been hearing that Crawl Caye is a bust. What's the story Norwegian Cruise after this meeting today?"

Hon. Godwin Hulse – Minister of Labour
"Mr. Sanchez it's a good question but the truth of the matter is that we have to take a gull report of cabinet colleagues tomorrow before we can make a statement to the public. It would be absolutely unfair for Cabinet to hear it on the radio tonight and it's a lengthy disussion, it's not a one word answer at all."

Jose Sanchez - Channel 5 News
"While you can't report on it. The fact that the world heritage site - and crawl caye is in it, would that have made part of whatever decision was made today?"

Hon. Godwin Hulse
"Any decision that is made within this country - as I have said over and over, from the Cabinet's position encompasses five clear parameters. One that it is socially economically acceptable and legally doable. That it brings revenue to government, brings meaningful jobs to the country, that it doesn't destroy the environment but in fact enhances it - if those criteria are met then we are good to go and that is what Cabinet will discuss tomorrow. "

Jose Sanchez - Channel 5 News
"As someone that deals with the environment; did you have environmental concerns that it is in the World Heritage Site?"

Hon. Lisel Alamilla – Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development
"Of course, environment has to be an important of the discussion, I think Minister Hulse told you that tomorrow we will discuss this at Cabinet and based on that we will make a public statement. I have nothing else to say, thank you."

Reliable sources informed us that officials from the Forestry Department, the Fisheries Department, and the Department of Environment all made presentations at today’s meeting, and they’ve made a strong case to committee about the possible environmental impact.

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 06/04/13 11:30 AM

No Crawl Caye for Norwegian Cruise Line

A Cabinet subcommittee met today at the Belize Tourism Board to discuss the Norwegian Cruise Line’s tourism project for Crawl Caye which is within a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mega project has been met with strong opposition from stakeholders within the tourism industry including the Belize Tourism Industry Association, APAMO and Healthy Reefs. The hundred million dollar proposal would have possibly brought NCL cruise ships that can sustain two thousand visitors, well above the two hundred and fifty to three hundred and fifty, recommended under the Tourism Master Plan that was commissioned by the Belize Tourism Board. Minister Godwin Hulse, Minister Lisel Alamilla, and Minister Santi Castillo presided over a meeting that lasted from one-thirty to five o’clock this evening regarding the proposed development. Presentations were made by Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade and Chief Environmental Officer in the Department of Environment Martin Alegria. Other stakeholders included BELTRAIDE’s Executive Chairman Mike Singh, who has been a strong proponent for the project. But all indications tonight are that following this afternoon’s meeting, Cabinet will be informed on Tuesday that Crawl Caye is not the best option for Norwegian Cruise Line’s proposed development of a tourism facility and instead the subcommittee is recommending that the south should only be consider pocket cruise tourism. News Five camped out the afternoon to speak to Minister Hulse, who is the Chairman of the subcommittee; that is examining the hundred million dollars project. We also caught up with Minister Alamilla.

Jose Sanchez

“Mr. Hulse, we’ve been hearing that Crawl Caye is a bust. What’s the story on Norwegian Cruise Line after this meeting today?”

Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Labor

“Mister Sanchez, it is a good question, but the truth of matter is we have to take a full report to cabinet colleagues tomorrow before we can make a statement to the public. It would be absolutely unfair to cabinet for them to hear it on the radio tonight. And it is a lengthy discussion so it is not a one word answer at all.”

Jose Sanchez

“While you can’t report on it. The fact that the world heritage site, Crawl Caye is within it; would that have been a major part of whatever decision was made today?”

Godwin Hulse

“Any decision that’s made in this country, as I have said over and over, from the cabinet’s position; encompasses five clear parameters. One; that it is socially, economically acceptable and legally doable; that it brings revenue to government, it brings meaningful jobs to the country; that it doesn’t destroy the environment, nut in fact enhances it. If those criteria are met, we are good to go. And this is what cabinet will discuss tomorrow.”

Jose Sanchez

“Okay, but our sources are saying…”

Godwin Hulse

“Those are your sources man, I just di say my source.”

Jose Sanchez

“Yes, but so environment issues…what are the concerns…”

Godwin Hulse

“Cabinet will discuss it tomorrow.”

Jose Sanchez

“Miss Alamilla, I noticed that people from your department; fisheries department and also the department of the environment left very early to the end of the meeting. Does that show also that they were not on board since all environmental agencies—FECTAB, Cruise Tourism Ship, all of these other N.G.O.s who were saying it is a really bad idea?”

Lisel Alamilla

Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development

“They left early…well they made their presentations to the cabinet ministers and then they left because the discussion really was at our level after they had made their technical presentations.”

Jose Sanchez

“As someone from dealing with the environment, did you have environmental concerns being that it’s in the world heritage site?”

Lisel Alamilla

“Of course, of course that has to be a part of the discussion. Environment has to be an important part of the discussion. But I have to go Jose. I think Mister Hulse told you that tomorrow we will discuss this at cabinet and based on that then I think a public statement will be available.”

Jose Sanchez

“Are there any alternatives like Hatchet Caye for the Crawl Caye Project?”

Lisel Alamilla

“I have nothing else to say. Thank you Jose.”

Also in the country is Colin Murphy, NCL’s Vice President of Destination and Strategic Development. He was not present at the technical meeting, but he was in Placencia over the weekend meeting with stakeholders in the peninsula. When contacted by News Five, Murphy said he was in a meeting and was currently unavailable for comment. Now, while Crawl Caye for now may be off limits, it is known that their interests are shifting to Harvest Caye, which is nearby Crawl Caye, and for which EIAs have already been undertaken. 

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 06/05/13 11:27 AM

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINES MAKES PITCH FOR CRAWL CAYE

A controversial US$50 million proposal by Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), which said it has been sending ships to Belize since 1998, is on the table, but the Barrow administration is faced with strong winds of opposition from key tourism interests who are calling on the government to promptly reject the project for a new cruise port at Crawl Caye, on the claim that it will devastate part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, without bringing the needed socio-economic benefits to Belize.

Colin Murphy, NCL’s Vice President, Destination & Strategic Development, is in Belize this week, and Amandala had an exclusive interview with him to get NCL’s side of the story.

In last weekend’s edition of our newspaper, we also reported on Government’s stance: Prime Minister Dean Barrow had said, “Government must have the conversation it is having with Norwegian.” Barrow explained that “you simply don’t turn away the potentially huge investment without making absolutely sure that this cannot happen, in the larger scheme of things.”

In elaborating on their impetus for the project, Murphy told Amandala: “…the 30% of the passengers who come off the ship have a great time, but the other 70% don’t have a good time.” He said that the proposal is really an NCL solution for Norwegian passengers.

The Economic Contribution of Cruise Tourism to the Destination Economies: A Survey-based Analysis of the Impacts of Passenger, Crew and Cruise Line Spending, Volume II; Destination Reports, prepared by Business Research & Economic Advisors for Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association in September 2012 indicates a customer satisfaction rating of 7.4 out of a possible 10.

“Our ships will be going somewhere else, unless we can figure out a way to make the experience better…” he added.

“We think that if we can develop a destination that is Belizean, where the workers and the people that they meet are Belizean, and where the atmosphere and the vibe and the culture is Belizean, in a high quality, international standard, destination, we think we will do much better – and introducing them to a part of the country – in a sensitive way – that is gorgeous!” he told our newspaper.

Murphy said that Belize can be a better destination, and NCL is looking at what can be done to give their passengers a better experience here. That is why, he said, their company has proposed a US$50 million project, which would mean turning Crawl Caye into an eco-resort style cruise port.

The concept diagram shows an 11.2-mile journey from Crawl Caye to Placencia, and another 3.8 mile journey to Malacate, which Murphy said is a good location, being very close to the highway.

(Malacate is a location from which tourists can reportedly access tours to Mayan ruins, the Blue Creek Cave, the Jaguar Preserve, Monkey River Village, as well as fishing/snorkeling/diving adventures.)

NCL currently brings 100,000 passengers to Belize, and if they can get the Crawl Caye project up and running, that could quadruple – to 400,000 a year, 130 days a year – not 365 days, Murphy said.

The NCL rep also told us that the project could also bring 1,000 jobs, as many as 400 of those being direct employment at the port. The new port would be operational, at the earliest, by fall 2015.

Murphy said that the NCL team has met several times with the Cabinet subcommittee headed by Minister of Labour, Local Government, Rural Development and National Emergency Management and Immigration and Nationality Godwin Hulse.

Last week, Hulse told Amandala that the NCL project would have to meet five parameters which cover the gamut of concerns there could be about the proposed development: (1) Any investment must be socially and economically viable and acceptable, and legally doable; (2) it must bring some revenue to Government; (3) it must also bring meaningful jobs to the country, not basic minimum wage jobs, but jobs for persons such as accountants and managers; (4) it must bring in foreign exchange; and (5) it must maintain the environment—but preferably enhance it.

Murphy said the 5 parameters are good, and what NCL proposes meets those 5 rules for development in Belize, he told us.

“Clearly, if we are producing 1,000 jobs and providing business for many, many, many small businesses in southern Belize, this is going to be good for the economy of the south,” said Murphy.

“When I talk to people, they want opportunity to do better—not just to take low-paying jobs in the banana fields or wherever,” he added.

He also said that there will be revenue to Government.

“We’ll pay head taxes and so on. Also, all the people that will work with us, local entrepreneurs and their employees, all their staff, all the people that work in the restaurants and gift shops, they will be paying taxes and spending money,” the NCL VP added.

There will be management level jobs, and the project will bring in foreign exchange for Belize, he added. As for the claims that the project will wreck a priceless part of Belize, contained in what has been internationally renowned as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Murphy said: “Does it make any sense for us to bring passengers to an area – and we are doing that because the area is beautiful – does it make any sense at all for us to bring passengers there and then destroy it?”

He told our newspaper that Norwegian Cruise Lines has ships that operate in “environmental sensitive” areas, and they maintain world-class environmental practices and processes. He also said they would employ the “best science” in preparing the Environmental Impact Assessment for the project.

The project does not include plans for big stores and they intend to have a light footprint, he told us.

He showed us several berthing models that depict different options for how the cruise ship (minimum 2,500 passengers) would dock in the south, including a plan to dock outside the reef line, while having passengers take a pedestrian path onto the island.

Murphy said that the plan calls for “basic infrastructure which will be as light as possible…” and there is a “remote possibility that anything will be substantially damaged.”

He said that consultations with Placencia residents as well as tour guides have indicated wide support for the project; however, he does acknowledge that there is opposition from certain interests in Belize – including the very prominent Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA).

“This is something for the country to decide—not me and not for expat hotel owners, either,” Murphy said.

Ideally, said Murphy, overnight tourism should benefit from the exposure given to cruise tourists. Cruise tours, he said, are like “a big ‘fam’ trip…” (a familiarization trip) that could bring return visitors for longer stays. If they see “the real Belize,” he said, they may want to invest and tell people about how beautiful Belize is.

“Usually, once the hotel owners see… the economic benefit that our passengers will bring, they turn around. Now some will never be satisfied; they will always think the worst of everything, but usually in most of the destinations we go to, hoteliers learn over a period of time that we are actually good for business,” Murphy said.

The people of Placencia will decide if they want to be touched by this or not, he indicated.

“If people from Placencia don’t want our guests, we don’t bring them… If people don’t want us here, we won’t come here. It’s as clear as that. You know personally, you don’t want to go somewhere where you are not wanted,” Murphy told Amandala.

Murphy is here this week “…talking to folks in [the] south and that is going very well…” he said.

He also informed us that environmental officials had made suggestions on the project, and NCL has returned with revisions to the proposal. This, he said, is an ongoing dialogue “to see if this thing can work.”

“If the economics don’t make sense, then we go somewhere else,” said the NCL VP.

He told us that NCL would like to have some comfort from Cabinet before it starts to invest millions in the cruise port.

Laura Esquivel-Frampton, BTB’s Director of Tourism, confirmed to Amandala that a recent survey has shown that indeed cruise tourists who don’t go off on tours have a very different experience than those who do.

She said that this is mainly because of the “harassment” they receive from persons outside the gate of the Fort Street Tourism Village who are pushing their products and services. She said that the BTB is addressing the problem with continued training.

According to Frampton, Belize is a tour port and it is not known for shopping. The country, she said, has some of the best available tours in this region, and that is what keeps bringing the cruise lines back.

Asked if a Crawl Caye port could significantly increase the customer satisfaction rating, the Director of Tourism told us she would refrain from commenting, since the matter is in the hands of Cabinet for consideration. BTB would officially get involved, she said, if government says it would entertain the proposal.

Amandala

Posted By: Marty

Re: Crawl Caye to become major cruise terminal? - 06/06/13 11:16 AM

GOB Says No To Crawl Caye

For weeks, 7News has been following the story where Cruise Tourism Giant, Norwegian Cruise Line wanted to access Southern Belize.

Their plan was to build a port to call on Crawl Caye, in which the company would be able to access Placencia. But as we’ve reported, the local private cruise interests, members of the conservation community, and BTIA are staunchly against it.

As we showed you 2 days ago, Forestry Department, the Fisheries Department, and the Department of Environment all made presentations at a secondary meeting as to the viability of the project based on the environmental concerns.

There were talks coming out of that meeting that this was the weigh which steered Cabinet against it, and today finally, we got confirmation.

So, Crawl Caye is a no-go, for this project; that’s what the Prime Minister and Minister Godwin Hulse, the chair of the subcommittee, told us today.

And because of the nature of negotiations, there were many unanswered questions about the proposal which GOB didn’t want to address until after it was fully heard.

They also tackled those tough questions.

Hon. Godwin Hulse - Minister of Labour
"As I said the last time we spoke that the committee would meet and we did meet. There was a presentation by our technical side in response to the upgraded presentation made by NCL, they concluded that even that presentation was outside the parameters required to give the green light for a development for Crawl Caye. So Crawl Caye is off the table and we've informed NCL accordingly. That does not mean that we are not continuing to dialogue with the people, we must understand that this is a huge investment. NCL is a reputable company, it's a world-class cruise company and any investment proposal to our country that could enhance jobs, enhance growth and create a better way for people - we can't just simple 'shush' away. So we have informed them of that, they have not completely withdrawn, we are continuing to talk and we will see where we go from there."

Daniel Ortiz
"So what is their position now that you've give that response that Craw Caye is a 'no-go'?"

Hon. Godwin Hulse
"Well they will continue to look and see what is possible but our view is that in any of these situations we should work with our people and work together. It's not a question that Belize is in a position to say to any investor 'ok bye bye that doesn't work' - we have to sit down with them and formulate what possibly could be a win-win situation. There's a lot of talk in the South about Cruise Tourism but there is no denial of cruise tourism so let's find something that works."

Daniel Ortiz
"So the government will still continue to consider cruise tourism in Southern Belize?"

Hon. Godwin Hulse
"Well there's a master plan that says so. The dialogue is the size, the carrying capacity of the various sites, etc. But nobody can deny that in fact that if a boat of people landed in Punta Gorda to buy stuff, or in Hopkins or in Maya Center or in any of these Coastal Villages that could spurn small businesses, that could start to move things with taxi men, small busses - that it would be a good thing."

Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"NCL I believe is interested in looking at other possibilities in the South of Belize so I stress that we've not said a blanket 'No' to any potential development for Cruise Tourism in the South at all but certainly it cannot - in terms of all the constraints, in terms of all the considerations articulated to us by the technical people - it cannot, will not work on Crawl Caye."

Daniel Ortiz
"How do you counter to the criticism that Government seems to be reversing it's position in relation to Cruise Tourism in the South where two or three consultations have said that it is not beneficial to Belize."

Hon. Godwin Hulse
"I don't think any consultation said that is not beneficial for Belize. I think what the consultation said was to look at the size, look at the carrying capacity, capacity to deal with it so that it doesn't destroy the very things we have. It's not possible. So we continue to talk to people and talk to people. I am a solutions person, I am not a problem person - I don't turn away anything. I like to trumpet the whole ASR position when they were potential investors, there was a human cry from cane industry that it was going to do this and that - so many negatives and look at the results on the first crop."

Daniel Ortiz
"What in relation to the private interests in Belize City for Cruise tourism and the environmental community who believe that Southern Belize cruise tourism should not be opened - what's the government's position on that?"

Hon. Dean Barrow
"Well that's the point that I just made. We do not accept that there can be any blanket prohibition on the development on cruise tourism on Southern Belize. I said last time that even with respect to Crawl Caye - the tour guide community in Placencia is strongly in support and we believe that you can find any number of players in the Tourism Industry that would support some kind of cruise project in Southern Belize. So we will not say that the decision is a blanket prohibition - we will look at any proposals on a case by case basis. I don't know how there was ever a thought that if a project takes place in the South that it would divert traffic from Belize City."

Daniel Ortiz
"That was a concern, sir."

Hon. Dean Barrow
"That cannot be a concern because we made clear to NCL even at the start of the discussion that if the project were ever to see the light of day - there site would be limited to hosting calls only from ships from NCL - no other line would be able to go there so there was never any question of a conflict between the interests of the Belize City people and the people in the south."

7News contacted NCL’s Vice President of Destination & Strategic Development, Colin Murphy, for an interview today. Unfortunately, he was already on his flight out of the country, and he promised to avail himself at the next opportunity when he is in Belize.

He did speak to the Amandala Newspaper earlier this week in which he addressed the reason for their interests, and the environmental concerns.

He said quote,

“…the 30% of the passengers who come off the ship have a great time, but the other 70% don’t have a good time.”
End Quote

And in relation to the environmental concerns, he told the Amandala, quote, “Does it make any sense for us to bring passengers to an area – and we are doing that because the area is beautiful – does it make any sense at all for us to bring passengers there and then destroy it?” End Quote.

Murphy also said that his company has ships and the expertise to operate in environmentally sensitive areas.

Channel 7


Cabinet Denies Norwegian Cruise Line’s Proposal due to Environmental Impact; Accepts request to Search for Alternate Site


© 2020 Ambergris Caye Belize Message Board