Advocacy organizations Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) and the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize (FECTAB) upped the ante in their fight to establish a cruise port in the Belize District that will, they say, ensure the survivability of the industry in increasingly competitive and uncertain times.
However, on Wednesday they unveiled a new piece of evidence, which they say confirms that the cruise ship lines – or at least one of them – is abandoning Belize City.
Executive Member of FECTAB and well-known tour operator, Yhonny Rosado, painted a stark picture of what will happen if the exodus continues.
“When they were building Harvest Caye, they were mentioning that only some of the ships or one or two ships will be going there. You got to cruiseset.com, they are already canceling all their ports to Belize City. They are going to Harvest Caye. Cruiseset.com; it is not FECTAB, it is not nobody, it is an international website that the cruise use to notify the American and Canadian public that they are going to a different port starting November next year. So there will be no more high season.
Every industry depends on a high season and there will be no more high season. And, like I said, if people out there would have known what we know, and that’s why the media is very important that the people know, that we were never informed of this when they were building Harvest Caye. No, only one or two ships will be going there, it’is a pure lie.”.
At the height of the joint protest COLA’s figures put the number of those present at 130. Some believe the protest could have drawn more with greater dissemination of information. But according to COLA president Geovannie Brackett, many more will be left looking in at the feeding frenzy if Fort Street Tourism Village’s owners, Royal Caribbean Line and Diamonds International, continue to leave Belizeans in the cold.
“First of all, there was an increase in the rent inside the Village. According to FECTAB, the way how the inside is being run, it’s not easily accessable for local tour operators. It’s not an approach whereby if you don’t have a good investment to start with, you probably won’t get in there, and even those that have the money, like Yhonny and those, have been basically having difficulty in the inside.
Not only that, but when you have cruise ships coming in, badmouthing the tour operators on the outside, that ls wrong. FSTV should not encourage any cruise line to badmouth local tour operators on the outside.
Let it be a fair game. If you’re going to book through the cruise line, then book it through, but don’t tell ties about the people on the outside, giving an impression like it’s criminals selling tours on the outside. Leave that alone,”
Protestors held up signs for visiting tourists leaving the city on tour buses and horse and carriages to see as they drove past. But today’s demonstration was also intended for the current Government, who according to COLA’s national security advisor Nedal McLaren, have condoned and participated in the “dictatorship” of foreign interests in the tourism sector, not to mention elsewhere.
“My belief is that no dictator should rule my people. We, as Belizeans, were promissed a port in Port Loyola, where the Honourable ‘Boots’ Martinez had people in the community, who are people in need, they were fooled, they were taken for granted, just to get votes. During your voting campaign, during your political campaign, it was about ‘Yah, we de bring a port so we all get jobs,’ That was your political plight.
Now, it seems, that you have turned your back on the people of Port Loyola. ‘Boots’ Martines has turned his back on the people of Port Loyola. You, your family, and all the rest of you politicians’ families, in your Cabinet, is getting rich, but the people of Belize, especially us on the streets, are suffering.
We’ve have enough. I am saying we’ve had enough, because , at the end of the day, people in Belize are scared. They did it to Arthur Young. They did it to ‘Ghost.’ They did it to a lot of other people, where a state ‘execution’ would be carried out. I am not scared. We’ve had enough! That goes for everybody. Get this country back in order, and stop your dictatorship!”