The Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize (FECTAB) is ramping up the pressure on authorities responsible for the management of the cruise tourism sector, to intervene in the ongoing dispute between the co-owners of Fort Street Tourism Village (FSTV) and the proprietors of the Stake Bank project.
On Monday its president, Tom Greenwood, issued a statement on behalf of its 18 member associations and thousands of industry workers, who he said would be seriously hurt if, as expected in 2016, Belize loses status as a result of not having a docking facility for the larger Oasis-class ships expected to be coming here.
According to Greenwood, the problem of the extended contract granted to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Diamonds International for exclusivity as a port of entry in the Belize District is the problem, and it must be fixed.
“We are saying that the legal people responsible for drafting that contract were working for the Government of Belize. They were being paid tax payers dollars. Fix it! Go in there and fix it! I am told by some of the best legal heads in this country that any contract can be fixed. Any contract can be fixed. This is why we have legal people. So fix it. Make this happen, otherwise tens of thousands of people and an entire industry will pay the price.
The contract, as it is with the FSTV, did not protect the Government of Belize and certainly it did not protect the stakeholders.
Stake Bank must proceed if the cruise industry is to survive within the Belize District. It must proceed.”
Tom Greenwood’s FECTAB does have something at stake with the Stake Bank project: on Monday he revealed that his organization has an iron-clad contract to conduct tour operations.
“FECTAB has secured a contract. FECTAB has obtained a solid rock-hard contract, which I ran by several legal agencies, not least of which I ran by the Prime Minister himself. Because when you are lobbying to get the whole thing off the ground and going, the Prime Minister has said to me personally, I remember his words, , ‘Tom, I don’t want you all to end up in the same mess that you’re in at FSTV. How can you guarentee that you people will have access?’
We got a contract from the Stake Bank Project, that the Federation members, and we keep telling everyone that it doesn’t cost a penny to become a member of FECTAB, nothing, just your name, address, your telephone number, and that is immediate approval, and we will all have a place in the sun.”
FECTAB and Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) have teamed up to organize a protest near the Tourism Village on Wednesday morning starting at 8:00 a.m. In addition to calling out the Government for being scared of the Fort Street problem, COLA president Geovannie Brackett had some not-so-kind words for Fort Street’s owners, who he accuses of being elitist towards locals.
“COLA will be doing a demonstration this Wednesday morning, eight o’clock, at Fort Street in the Lighthouse area.
The purpose of this demonstration is: One – That we completely denounce any contract that fetters the development of an entire nation. There’s nobody, no foreign interest should be holding an entire industry hostage.
Two: We have seen how the complaints from the local tour operators, for the mistreatment from FSTV to our own people. We have ships coming in, who have been bad-mouthing our country and our people, local tour operators, to tell the tourists not to actually get involved or use the local tour operators, and FSTV suppots that. By their actions, we can only deduce that they support such actions. We denounce that at COLA.