The Government of Belize, determined to get a cruise port built in the Belize District sooner rather than later, has been trying to broker a deal between developer of the Stake Bank/Drowned Cayes project Michael Feinstein and the owners of the Fort Street Tourism Village in the Fort George section of town. The second part of Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s Miami weekend trip was to speak to executives of Carnival Cruise Lines, which sends the most ships to Belize annually, about their position on the project. But before we bring you that portion of the press conference, the Prime Minister reported that FSTV has made an offer to take over the project from Feinstein, in order to protect their own interests as expressed in agreements signed by the previous administration which gives them exclusive rights in the District until 2028. The P.M. explained why he will not countenance that idea.
“In the mean time I have said to the FSTV principles just last week before I went to Miami, that they thought that they could build the Cruise Port at StateBank is not going to fly. Mister Fienstien has made plain that he is not going to sell his island. He doesn’t mind them partnering with him but in a minority role, and in any case that they’ve made clear to me, even if they had the island and they could raise the financing to construct the facilities they would require a government guarantee of some 80+Million US Dollars, that’s an absolute NO-NO. Mister Fienstein has in principle the financing coming for a consorption of local banks. So as I said on the last occasion in view of all this, it is governments preference to proceed with the Fienstein version of the project.”
In his meeting with Carnival, the cruise executives reported satisfactory reviews of Belize as a “marquee” destination, and gave approval to various infrastructure efforts expected to lift the doldrums in the Old Capital. But the cruise line says its customers are complaining about the rough ride from the ship to the shore in tender boats and the “mauling” of tourists by eager local tour operators laywaiting them at the village’s entrances. The Prime Minister summarized how Carnival feels the new port, if built, would resolve these issues.
“They are saying without the cause way there are still two major advantages over the current situation. The length of the trip from StateBank to the Mainland is far shorter than the length of the trip now from where the ships have to anchor in the harbour to the mainland, that’s number one. Number two while that shorter trip can still lead the way out tenders because there would be no cause way. The people get off the ships onto land and then from the land t the tenders. Currently you have to go from ship to tender especially when the seas are a little bit choppy, that can be a very challenging experience. So Carnival then, in a sense by all means get the in Cruise Port built, we would encourage that but we are not saying to you that if you can’t we won’t stop coming. And secondary they are saying in terms of who builds it, that’s for the Government and Mister Fienstein to work out.”
Prime Minister Barrow now awaits a meeting with FSTV/Royal Caribbean Line executives, either in Miami or Belize, which will tell him how to move forward. Feinstein’s lawsuit against all parties is due in court in June.