Harvest Caye Cruise Port owned by Norwegian Cruise Line saw its first cruise call on November 17 from the Norwegian Dawn. The Belizean media was not invited to the grand ceremony on the private island located just off the coast of Placencia. That invitation came almost a month after and last week, Love News, went on the organized tour of the island. Our news team along with other reporters and cameraman were the only Belizean citizens allowed on the island that do not work on there apart from Government Ministers and officials. This leads us to the question posed to Colin Murphy the Senior Vice President of Destination for NCL and Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism. Will Belizeans, well at least those who can afford it, be allowed to vacation on the island?
“We thought about that actually because the trouble is to hire it takes a lot of people to run the island so if we have to bring 400 people here to work then you bring 20 people from the mainland it doesn’t make sense economically but we certainly want to do things like community groups and school groups, we want people to understand what we’re doing here. In the beginning our focus had been entirely on the passengers and making sure that they have a wonderful time but we certainly want to give access to people it’s just not economically to do it on a paying basis to give people a chance to come and spend the day on Harvest Caye but certainly for school groups and community groups we are absolutely open to that.”
MANUEL HEREDIA JR
“There was one question that I don’t know if it had been asked about why the ordinary Belizean could not come to the island and it is simple. If we look at the village in the city not any Belizean could go into that village because it was an international port of entry whereby just its limited to the cruise passengers, cruise crew and to the people that working within that area. Likewise with the island, after the 9/11 thing happened there was a lot of scrutiny as to security and the international safety through the port authority called for that, that there should be serious scrutiny where these vessels are disembarking their passengers and hence the reason why apart from being a private island we need to have tight security here and hence the reason for that. Another example that I gave, look at Calle Espanto in San Pedro, it is a tourist development but it is not anybody that can go to that private island ,it is people that pay to stay there and people that work around, that is the reason why we have to do such things.”
According to Heredia and Murphy, Harvest Caye has allowed hundreds of Belizeans to be employed