Wednesday, November 26, 2014. AARON HUMES Reporting: The Fort Street Tourism Village was today forced to turn away two cruise ships owing to unfavorable weather conditions for tendering.
More than 6,000 passengers lost an opportunity to see Belize as on the first four-ship day of the “high season” of cruise tourism a northerly wind heralding the passage of a cold front made conditions unsafe.
It underscores a call to action made last week by, among others, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA).
At a press conference COLA president Geovannie Brackett warned that unless the impasse between Government, the proprietors of the Stake Bank project and Fort Street Tourism Village is resolved and a cruise port is built, Belize stands to lose all it has gained from encouraging cruise ship development.
Director of Cruise and Regional Operations for the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), Valdemar Andrade today went on record to make clear the Board’s support for a cruise port of any kind to be built in Belize.
Andrade told us that today’s incident underscores that need.
While he would not be drawn to expressing support for specific projects such as Stake Bank, but he echoed the sentiments of stakeholders that Belize’s industry will be severely hampered without one, especially with confirmation that the major cruise lines are moving to use larger Oasis-class ships beginning in the near future.
However, Andrade referred specific questions on the legal gridlock between Fort Street and Stake Bank’s proprietors to Director of Tourism Karen Bevans who had more information.
Nonetheless, Andrade says BTB wants to facilitate the process where possible, as with the coming of the larger ships there are more opportunities for all but also more challenges.
Andrade also issued a call to local tour operators to help the BTB make business better for all, saying there must be greater cooperation between the Board and the private sector to set and meet standards for a safe, enjoyable tourism product.
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