The group, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) has sent out a release expressing grave concern at a development in the tourism industry while urging the Government of Belize to act now to save the industry. The release reads, in part, quote, “Recent developments made known to COLA underline our urgent call for the building of a modern cruise port facility in the Belize District. COLA has learned from credible sources that Carnival Cruise Lines has cancelled 14 calls to Belize for the coming “high season.” This will cost approximately BZ$2.5 million in lost revenue. The company’s representatives, speaking by email with the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), say they are “unhappy and dissatisfied with their experience in Belize,” adding that the tendering process is unfavorable. While Carnival is reported to also have issues with their service from the Fort Street Tourism Village (FSTV), which is partially owned by a rival, Royal Caribbean Line, the continued lack of a cruise port is a primary issue.” End of quote. Prime Minister Dean Barrow did spoke on the issue yesterday, making reference to his last meetings with Carnival.
The release from COLA went on to read, quote, “In his New Year’s message, P.M. Barrow had assured Belizeans that his administration, this year, will move forward with a cruise port – a promise welcomed by many Belizeans including COLA. We appreciate that the matter remains bogged down in court despite the best efforts of the Prime Minister personally to negotiate with all parties, but it remains urgent. COLA once again calls on the government to move forward with the approval for a port facility. Such a port facility will solve most of the issues Carnival has outlined increasing the number of visitors whom our people interact with. The Board must also come up with a comprehensive plan and strategy for the cruise tourism sector and tourism generally and implement this to the benefit of all stake holders. With the coming of larger Oasis-class ships to our shores in 2016, tendering will no longer be a viable transport option, and we thus must act now to save our industry.” End of quote.