Monday, January 10, 2011


facts are that, the government makes money, but nobody else does and it destroys the local overnight tourist economy.

And THAT’s going to happen in Belize? I don’t think so. And cruise lines usually DO come to dominate tourism in a destination – look at Roatan for example. I think I’m on firm ground saying that the majority of people in Placencia (and I’m talking about people qualified to vote in Placencia) don’t want cruise ship tourism. And if we don’t want it, then we shouldn’t get it.

Also, do some reading on what’s happened in Alaska – the cruise lines effectively control the government in terms of environmental regulations affecting the cruise ship industry – they pretty much hold the Alaskan government hostage – kind of like a crack dealer does when he gets his customer hooked.

In fact, our own former CEO of Tourism, Michael Singh, says cruise ship tourism is like crack – the more you get, the more you want. I happen to agree with that description of cruise ship tourism as crack tourism, but that’s because you can’t stop it even when it’s killing you.

Take the Belize Cruise Ship Tourism Policy of 2007, for example. That policy limited the number of cruise ship passengers in port to 3,500 a day. That number was quickly exceeded, so they formally increased the limit to 9,000 passengers a day. At this point, no one pays the slightest bit of attention to the Cruise Ship Policy – according to the BTB, 15,000 or more cruise ship passengers regularly call on Belize City in a single day, carrying capacities were never established for sites as required by the Policy, the number of guides to passengers ratios are almost ALWAYS exceeded because there’s absolutely no enforcement, and we have people in Placencia who have seen with their own eyes cruise ships discharging waste near Turneffe Atoll.

Then there’s the issue of who benefits – in Belize City, it’s 3 companies, an inland tour company (Jamaican owned), one dive operation and one snorkel operation that get bookings directly from the cruise ship companies.

I’ve been to Belize City twice in the last two weeks and have taken the time to walk the streets around the tourism village when there have 3 or 4 boats in port, and I saw very few vendors making any sales. In fact, I was at one woodcarver’s booth when a tourist tried to buy a hand carved fish marked at BZ$60 for BZ$16! The tourist wouldn’t budge and walked away even when the woodcarver tried to explain to him that the wood alone was worth more than that.

Tourists are NOT eating at local restaurants – the cruise lines actively discourage that. The few that I saw on Queen and Regent Streets were taking pictures of beggars and the mess of wires on the electric poles. Not a single taxi driver I’ve ever talked to (and I always take cabs in Belize City) has told me that they make any money off cruise ship passengers, and, in fact, stay away from the tourism village.

They tell us in Placencia that it will be small ships and controlled access to sites. Right, we’re supposed to believe the government when the evidence is right before our very eyes that they’re not to be trusted?

Placencia has spent a long time growing its own particular brand of eclectic tourism and we’re not about to sacrifice that so that a few people can benefit and the rest get put out of business.

Lan, you may THINK that cruise ship tourism works well in some of the places you’ve visited, but have you actually talked to people outside the immediate area of the cruise ship “zone” or done any research on how far the money from the cruise ships trickle down into the pockets of the majority of the people in those areas?

And we haven’t even started on the issues of crime and cultural degradation.

We’ve now probably read every study available on the Internet about cruise ship tourism and the ONLY good things we’ve found have come from the cruise ships themselves – or organizations involved with the cruise ship lines. Every single other study has said that eco-tourism and cruise ship tourism cannot co-exist successfully and that cruise ships do NOT benefit most countries, especially in the Caribbean, when you add up the cost of infrastructure, increased crime, pollution, depletion of natural resources such as water, and the cost of environmental, social and cultural damage.

Cruise tourism has also been proven to chase out overnight tourism, which has far-reaching effects on local businesses since cruise lines source NOTHING from most of the countries they visit. When they’re in Belize, they don’t buy any local food, pay a phone or electric bill, buy any kind of supplies, etc., etc., etc., while resorts and hotels, especially locally owned ones, buy almost everything they need in the country, producing employment for shop clerks, carpenters, farm workers, construction workers, employees and owners of car rental agencies and dealerships, utility employees (such as BTL, SMART, cable companies, butane companies), etc., etc., etc.

And then there’s the sexual exploitation of young girls and boys – remember the “Hit Me on the Hips” phenomenon in Belize City in which pimps contacted school girls by cell phones turned to vibrate when a cruise ship customer wanted a taste of the local sugar? I also know hotel managers in Belize City who have had to kick out cruise ship passengers who were using their hotel rooms for assignations with young women and boys.

We want all that in Placencia? Give me a break.

On 1/9/2011 9:06:25 AM, Lan Sluder ( wrote:
> I'm afraid I don't share the anti-cruise ship views of some in Placencia
> and
> elsewhere. There are many examples of ports and destinations that have
> successfully integrated controlled cruise tourism into their total
> tourism
> package. To name a few, many European ports on the Mediterranean, ports
> in
> Asia, Sint Maarten/St. Martin in the Caribbean and several Alaskan
> coastal
> cities.
> Cruise ships are like all-inclusive resorts. They offer value and a good
> experience, and can provide additional jobs and revenue for local
> businesses
> in the destination. Where they become a problem is when they come to
> dominate tourism in a small destination.

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