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Tourism Minister calls attacks on Puerto Azul premature

Proposed Puerto Azul project

Proposed Puerto Azul project

Proposed Puerto Azul project

Wednesday, July 23, 2014. AARON HUMES Reporting: A joint statement from several of Belize’s environmental organizations espoused opposition to the Puerto Azul project, variously described as a proposed “citadel of luxury” by its developers, and a “Disneyesque city” by at least one of its opponents.

With plans for underwater suites, golf course, amusement park, submarine base, hospital, super-yacht marina, Formula 1 race track, and a 2-mile long international airport, all to be staffed by more than 2,000 employees, is it too big to fail?

Puerto Azul project

Puerto Azul project

That is the question for the Government of Belize and particularly Minister of Tourism and Culture Manuel Heredia, who was flown to Cannes, France, for the launch of the project earlier this year.

In giving an update on where the project stands now, Heredia told the press that with nothing definitively planned on the table, criticisms raised by the environmental lobby are at most premature.

He stated that the developers continue to look at their plans in preparation for an environmental impact assessment, which will be reviewed by the umbrella environmental organization APAMO before going to the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Investment for final word.

The Minister has made much of his start as a humble fisherman which included visits to the Lighthouse Atoll.

Today he said that it is those years of experience which will tell on whether he – and Belize – will accept a project on the scale of Puerto Azul, in an area classed as a World Heritage Site but which might lose that status if the project is approved.

Heredia says the environmentalists simply cannot reject the project outright without providing possible solutions for the potential jobs that the project may bring, as well as other benefits.

Heredia told us that the environmentalists will have a chance at input, but they were not approached earlier because there was nothing on the table to discuss.

As of yet there is no word on whether the environmental lobby, which ranges from co-managers Belize Audubon Society to World Wildlife Fund, Belize Tourism Industry Association and OCEANA among others, will get a chance to sit with Government before plans proceed.

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