BTB announces construction of Fort Point Tourism Village

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 48            December 28, 2000

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The Belize Tourism Board has announced that an agreement has been signed between the Government of Belize, the Tourism Board (BTB), Investor Mr. Michael Feinstein and the cruise tourism company, Belize Tourism Village Ltd. (BTV) for the construction and operation of the Fort Point Tourism Village. The BTV, whose principal is Mr. Michael Feinstein, is to purchase the property formerly housing the Customs Department at Fort Point in Belize City. They are to invest some BZ$10 million in a full service tourism village to include restaurant and bar facilities, a cruise ship tender terminal, arts and crafts stores, duty-free shopping, entertainment outlets and other hospitality facilities that cater to cruise visitors, overnight tourists and Belizeans. The village will be the port of entry for cruise passengers visiting the Belize District and will offer various services to overnight visitors and Belizeans.

    Phase One of the Tourism Village is to be completed by October 1, 2001 and will include the main cruise ship tender arrival hall, a water taxi terminal and many of the auxiliary services. By October 1, 2002, Phases Two and Three of the project should be complete to include all other amenities.

    As part of the agreement, specific concessions have been made for the cruise industry's small operators: land taxis will be able to operate from the village; art and craft vendors currently utilizing the Memorial Park will be provided special booths; and, the BTV will not be permitted to compete directly with the industry's current stakeholders.

    The BTB will retain its regulatory functions for the cruise industry such as the fixing and collecting of cruise taxes, negotiating with ships to call on Belize and enforcing the National Cruise Ship Policy. A BTB representative will also sit on the BTV's Board of Directors. Receipts from the sale of the property, as well as a share of the revenues from the cruise tax will allow for the BTB to further invest in promotion and tourism product development.

    Belize is expected to host some 55,993 cruise ships passengers in 2000, a 64% increase from 1999 and the highest number ever to come ashore. Also 163,639 overnight visitors arrived in Belize during the period of January to October, an 8.9% increase from 1999. With the growth in cruise arrivals and overnight tourists expected to continue, the Village is considered by the government and the BTB to be a crucial step in making Belize a more competitive cruise and overnight tourism destination.
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