One of the issues raised by the conservation community at last night’s session has to do with Belize not having an effective cruise port policy. The government has already approved the construction of two cruise port facilities and may also approve the Waterloo project. The NGO community has stated that the construction of these facilities in one general area may lead to disastrous effects on the environment. Ministry of Tourism, Anthony Mahler, spoke on the issue and explained the setback in updating the current policy.
Anthony Malher, Minister of Tourism: “There’s always been a cruise policy. In fact, I wrote the first two, personally wrote the first two cruise policies so there has always been. Now it had not been modernised or updated for many years and since we’ve gotten in we have changed that. So within the next few weeks, we should be taking publicly the updated and modernised cruise ship policy that we are working on currently.”
Reporter: Do you believe then that Waterloo’s EIA should have been resubmitted then after that cruise port policy was updated?
Anthony Malher, Minister of Tourism: “Look, there is a process for you to do any major development and I don’t care which investor it is, that person or that entity has to go through the necessary steps. Whether it is approved or denied, that is not up to me. Our role in the Belize Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations is to ensure that cruise ships go to those ports or port, whatever it is, that is built in Belize. We’re not responsible for the development of the port and that is my position on that.”
Reporter: And your personal take on the possibility of these cruise ports in close proximity of each other, is it something that you’re concerned about given that the reef is at risk?
Anthony Malher, Minister of Tourism: “I’m always concerned when you have these mega developments especially putting strain on the natural resources but I think sense will prevail and we’ll see where we go from here.”