Posted: Friday, September 29, 2023. 10:09 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: While cruise tourism arrival numbers are healthy, they could be better, according to Director of Tourism Evan Tillett, if Belize could resolve its cruise port problems.
The National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan is being updated, but what the major cruise line companies want is dock-side berthing for their larger cruise ships, which have yet to be resolved in Belize City in a fashion similar to Norwegian Cruise Lines and Harvest Caye off Placencia.
Tillett told reporters that the last he had heard, the Stake Bank project would be ready in 2024 and he has heard nothing to indicate otherwise.
But Stake Bank has competition from two proposed cruise ports on the Belize coastline: Waterloo Investments’ proposed combined cruise and cargo port project at the Port of Belize compound in Port Loyola, and Portico Enterprises Limited’s proposed Port of Magical Belize project closer to the Sibun River.
The former is tied up in various litigation including a review of its environmental impact assessment (EIA), while the latter, despite heavy sledging from all sides, appears to have received potential backing to go ahead with a proposed legislative bill being worked on in development.
Tillett said the sooner we have one, the better: “I think we need to finalize that whole process in getting a docking facility and then you will see real growth in the cruise tourism sector. But the important thing is that it has to be done in a sustainable manner and every single thing that we do at the BTB (Belize Tourism Board) and the Ministry of Tourism is done sustainably.”
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