BTIA questions benefit of NCL project at Harvest Caye

BTIAOn Friday we reached President of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), Herbert Haylock, who professed not to be impressed with the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) and Ministry of Tourism’s response to their appearance in the press to speak out against the proposed Norwegian Cruise Line project at Harvest Caye. Previously rejected for a proposal on Crawl Caye, the Government has signed on to a Memorandum of Understanding with the company. But BTIA’s continued challenges center on the benefits of the project for Belize. Here is his explanation.

Herbert Haylock – President Belize Tourism Industry Association:

vlcsnap-2013-08-07-08h46m23s253What we have seen is just a draft, but there are some glaring concerns and glaring issues that we have taken concern with.  We have pointed out those concerns previously.  There are the obvious environmental concerns.  There are the obvious social concerns.  More specifically there are some economic concerns as it relates to what we have seen in the draft of the MOU, as it relates to what are the things that are being essentially “handed” to NCL in terms of the concessions and the tax breaks and the other things that they will receive.  Conversely, what exactly does Belize as a country receive in the MOU?  So obviously our reaction that we have been putting forward has been based on the initial draft that we have seen, but we understand that there have been some changes to that draft.  However, it still does not mitigate our change in the fact that in relation to the overall issue of cruise development, we still stand firmly behind what is our general position that cruise development at that particular level in terms of these mega-ports being mega-locations are not necessarily best suited for the South as is outlined in what is the National Master Plan.

Mr Haylock says “don’t believe the hype” in terms of the grand scale of the investment which has been quoted as providing up to 1,000 jobs and millions of dollars in profits and development for the entire South. Mr Haylock says Government should provide the numbers they are talking about.

Herbert Haylock – President Belize Tourism Industry Association:

I think we need to put forward what are the costs and the benefits, and the impacts and negatives of projects of this nature.  This is what we’re falling for and are seeing again in this case, not only the Ministry of Tourism and the BTB, but the committee that has been looking at this with all the technocrats that supposedly have been viewing this initiative, and dissecting and analyzing ultimately what are the benefits of  the project, in their opinion based on their position to move it forward and to put it forward that it’s good for Belize  We’re asking, share those numbers with the public and let us see what exactly are the costs to this country for this development, and exactly what does this country on a whole receive in terms of figures from this particular development.  What do we stand to gain, as opposed to what do we stand to lose.  If we can begin to  understand those figures and we’re asking for them, then I think that would begin to give people a more clearer perspective as to why these decisions have been taken.

At the time of our interview with Haylock, the MOU had not been signed, but Herbert Haylock told us that the industry lobby arm continues to appeal for reconsideration.

Herbert Haylock – President Belize Tourism Industry Association:

We’re appealing to the relevant Government Ministers, the relevant Government agencies, to the Cabinet, and to the Prime Minister.  We’re appealing and saying that a mass of people in this country, a mass of organizations in this country are saying that this is not good for Belize, that we need to reconsider.  Again we go back to that point in time when we can show and demonstrate that the benefits outweigh the costs for such a development.  That may perhaps change the perspective, but again it does not change the overall perspective of where the development is located, and I think that is a crucial part of this argument, where this development is being positioned and located.

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