The Federation of Cruise Tourism Association of Belize, FECTAB, is at odds again with the government and the Belize Tourism Board. Their discontent follows Monday’s handing over of sixty thousand dollars by the Republic of China (Taiwan) to GOB for one of two planned exchange investment missions. The exchanges will be headed by the Ministry of Investment Trade and Commerce and should see the increase of foreign direct investment in several sectors in Belize, including tourism. David Almendarez and Yhony Rosado, both members of FECTAB, explain their position.
David Almendarez: “For far too long we have been getting these kinds on Trade Missions and opportunities for local operators and local people and we are never involved so we are calling out the Government on the fact that they are going to get millions of dollars to help create a link for the people of Taiwan in the United States. People from Taiwan that can bring money to our country. They gave the money to BELTRAIDE and we want to know who they are taking? How they are taking it? How many local people that can really benefit from these kinds of things and trickle down to us. If we are considered when you are doing this kind of stuff? If the poor people will benefit from the Taiwan money? “
Yhony Rosado: “To know the Ministers and the Belize Tourism Board is not there to protect us so we are calling them again and reminding them where is the help? Where are all the millions that they are getting?They are spending it. BTB is spending millions every year to upgrade their statutes and help the Tourism Industry. Who are they helping? Because they haven’t helped me in anything. Our business is not giving us a profit anymore and that is why we are calling on the Government and calling on BTB that they need to fix their acts together and stop calling FECTAB liars because FECTAB is the local man. Fectab is the local guy, your neighbor.”
Another issue that FECTAB addressed was the ripple effect that followed after David Gegg of Cruise Solutions Limited took the Government to court to have tour services to cruise lines be declared zero rated, and won. Government was ordered to pay back over half a million dollars in taxes. Others followed suit, something the local tour operators are saying is morally wrong.
David Almendarez: “This is a business and at the point in time when they were collecting the money they had as any good businessman would tell you. They had that calculated in the price, we already made the money. You collect the tax money for people, give the people the tax money man. You are a big company, it stink and dutty, tour operator of the year. I don’t say you don’t want back but it stink. We are a poor country, you come here and rape us already. Before Chukka came to Belize $100 US a tour guide get paid minimum a day. When they bring the Walmart effect and started to cut this and cut that and meet this, meet that, meet this, it hurt our economy and it took the tour guide pay down to $30, $60, $65 a day. That is what the big company took due to our economy and we didn’t call it out. THe big company makes millions, they done make millions, satisfy what you make.”
Yhony Rosado:“The Belize Tourism Board, Carnival and this Government is saying that the numbers are going higher and higher so we are making more and more money so I came to realize that the Government needs to be more specific to BTB who is making the US dollars. Who is taking the bulk of people, who is making the bulk of money. It is very important for us to know that we are dying slowly. We are doing our job to call it out. We know that we are going to be heated with BTB, we know that we are going to be heated with the Government. Gentlemen somebody has to say something and we were called out to do our job.”
Last year, FECTAB also moved against the proposed re-location of local tour operators from the FSTV to an area near the Marion Jones Stadium. That was proposed by the Belize Tourism Board and the Belize City Council but have since halted those plans until consultations were concluded.