Staying on the tourism front: The Ministry has also been given approval to formally review the current definitive agreement between the government and Belize Island Holdings Limited. The idea is to improve and facilitate the future growth and development of cruise tourism in Southern Belize. Speaking generally on the need for this review, BTB’s Director for Cruises, Abil Castañeda explained that the most important things this will achieve are common understanding and a collaborative approach to the sector in the south.
Abil Castañeda, Director of Cruise Quality Management, BTB: “I can’t get into much detail because obviously it’s a legal agreement with an external partner but what I can say is that where this stems, both from the update of the cruise policy that is on its way but also in 2019/2020, the Belize Tourism Board carried out a carrying capacity study of the cruise sector in Belize where we’re looking at where is future growth going to go beyond, well at that time 2019/2020. Because what we were seeing is that we were very quickly reaching our 2030 capacities within 2019 and 2020 and so we realised that we needed to do some sort of update and understanding of where will the numbers be within the next 10 years because we were already reaching the 1.5 million mark that we said we would have reached in 2030. So where, what that means now is that as a responsible administration of tourism we need to begin to work with our partners to understand exactly where their vision is in the next 10 years for development of cruise tourism in Belize. If we don’t do that then we are going to be sort of subject to the realities of the market. So we are being proactive in working with our various partners. In the case of Belize Island Holdings, they are the privately owned port and managed port and so it is important for us to engage with them from now so that we can build a path forward for the next 10, 15, 20 years if that is where we want to land so that really is the gist of it all. The objective is to try to put together, along with our private sector partner, a sustainable path forward for the growth of cruise tourism at that particular port and obviously how then that can translate into opportunities for Belizeans and for attractions and for tour operators in the southern part of the county.”