The Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize (FECTAB) has been a major player in the debate over cruise tourism, raising alarms over the Harvest Caye/Norwegian project in recent weeks. They were recently on the media echoing assurances from Prime Minister Dean Barrow that that the NCL Project would not hurt their investments in the City. But the organization has surprisingly given a ‘two thumbs up’ to the Feinstein initiative at Stake Bank/North Drowned Caye. President Tom Greenwood explained why.
Tom Greenwood – President, FECTAB:
We sat down with the Feinstein group and said, ‘Well. Let’s look at this whole thing,” It behooves us to support this project, because the industry is evolving. When you get out there and you see some enterprising Belizean lying down on the ground, sticking his head under a gate, to try to sell a little item made from bamboo, I don’t know about you people, I may consider myself a tough you know what, my eyes get wet. That’s not the way it’s to be. I’ve been to other areas around us, that’s not the way it is. Evolution is taking place and within evolution there is pain. There’s not only pain, there is loss, some things are left aside while some things move forward. We were caught in a particular fire there because we’ve got probably about 17 people involved in tendering. I have said to them, it’s time to take your catamarans and fix them up in such a way that 8 or 10 people can sleep aboard and establish a fantastic tour from Belize City to Punta Gorda and back. Wouldn’t that be a seller? That’s what we’re talking about, evolving. All these dozens of Belizeans, doing what they need to do to survive, will they be able to access that island? Resounding Yes was the answer from Mike. Are we going to get a space there? A resounding yes. Is it going to be free? A little hesitance and so I want to ask Mike to endorse our request that the federation members will have access to that island.
Mr Greenwood wasn’t shy in admitting that he is thinking about the benefits to his members who are the first line of communication with cruise ship passengers.
Tom Greenwood – President, FECTAB:
They came to recognize that they too must evolve, and they have, by and large, evolved as well. They know how to latch on to survive. They know to look at the cruise industry and say, “What if we advertise to them as well?” We have seen in the Caribbean, you may be able to correct me on this, there’s a sort of eighteen percent return of cruise guests to destinations they’ve been to. Eighteen percent of millions? For little Belize, that is magic. So the Federation has been pushing in that direction as well. Every time every one of our members takes people out, one of the first things we say, “Folks, you’re only here for six hours. That’s not good enough. We’ll show you what we can within those six hours, but we’d like to see you come back to Belize for six days.” How many times have we not seen them? Just last week, a whole family came back, not for a week but for two weeks. Belize is the place. Belize is growing by leaps and bounds. We believe that this project in its entirety is going to be good.
Later Tom Greenwood compared the Stake Bank and Harvest Caye projects.
No such thing with this development that Mike and his family have put together. This is going to be berthage for all ships. In that respect then, I see the fear in the eyes of some of the members with the present FSTV turning into a shopping center Ladies and gentlemen, evolution is wicked! Evolution takes place. Nothing but an act of God stops that. So we look at it and we say, should that ever happen, we met with Mike and we said, “Mike, [there’s] a lot of people out there. Are we going to access four acres?” I stopped the questions right away. The more active that island is, of course the more successful the project will be. I stand firm on that.
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