On the heels of news of a slight downturn in overnight tourist arrivals over the first four months of 2015, there is potentially troubling news in the cruise tourism sector. Reports indicate that Carnival Cruise Lines has written the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) announcing 14 cancellations of cruises in the upcoming high season. The company’s representatives, speaking by email with the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), say they are “unhappy and dissatisfied with their experience in Belize,” adding that the tendering process is unfavorable. While Carnival is reported to also have issues with their service from the Fort Street Tourism Village (FSTV), which is partially owned by a rival, Royal Caribbean Line, the continued lack of a cruise port is a primary issue. Prime Minister Dean Barrow was asked about it on Sunday. He had met with Carnival earlier this year and says he doesn’t know that anything has changed from that time.
“I have not seen such letter.”
Giovanni Bracket – Plus TV Reporter
“What is the latest update in terms of that conversation? Are you still committed to establishing a port?”
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“I didn’t have any conversation with Carnival during which Carnival has said that it requires the building of the port. I spoke to you all on the occasion of my having met with Carnival and told you that Carnival said that it would be nice if there were to be a port, but that for them that’s not a be all or end all, that they intend to continue coming to Belize in any case. So if that has changed, I would first want to see the letter in which they indicate such a change before I would comment further.”
But Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) is not waiting – they have renewed their call for a cruise port to be built. The organization wrote a press release today which says in part: quote, “In his New Year’s message, P.M. Barrow had assured Belizeans that his administration, this year, will move forward with a cruise port – a promise welcomed by many Belizeans including COLA. We appreciate that the matter remains bogged down in court despite the best efforts of the Prime Minister personally to negotiate with all parties, but it remains urgent. COLA once again calls on the government to move forward with the approval for a port facility.” The release ends by saying that Belize must “act now to save our industry”.