Friday, January 7, 2011

BELIZE, MEXICO, HONDURAS NEED TO START A REGIONAL INTEGRATED POLICY TO CRUISE SHIP TOURISM

The North Western Caribbean has a lot of cruise tourism already and more is envisioned. The package deals do little for locals, either in cruise ships, or hotels as Jamaica found out.

The rise of cruise tourism, or floating pre-paid package hotels, not subject to the whims of local governments and politics is on the rise. The reason for investors is that you can take your investment and move away to another country should politics interfere.

At the moment, the port of Belize City, Roatan, and Cozumel are the main destinations in the North Western Caribbean. These destinations are bound to expand over the next 20 years. The deal is too good. Look for Sapodilla Caye, and Deep River to become cruise ship destinations in Belize. They have deep water ( 100 feet ) and with docks, the ships can moor alongside. Glovers Reef Atoll will be another one. Chinchorro Atoll another cruise destination. More in the South, Isla San Andres already a big tourist destination for planes within Colombia and Central America.

Cruise ships are nothing more than a floating package hotel. They will pay local transportation, and site visit fees. Nothing else much will happen. Placentia in Belize the powers to be, have decided will become a cruise ship destination. Though the current load of 12,000 people a day for four hours is more than that area can handle. Look in the years ahead to that number of short vistor packages to boom, to 30,000 visitors a day from cruise ship all inclusive package hotels. This is a new version of the old Jamaican and Dominican Republic foeign corporate owned shore based package, all inclusive hotel within a compound, selling a beach, warm water, sun and coconut trees. The difference is the hotel is moveable.

'Transformational economics', dictates that the governments of Honduras, Mexico and Belize need to re-design cruise tourism landings in a different way than now done. In order to maximize financial returns not only to the government reveneues, but to local site and service operators. How do you seperate pre-sold, onboard, package tourism in floating cruising hotels, with all inclusive advertised packaged prices, so that tourists must share the wealth with their destinations and not let all the money be kept by foreign tourist companies? That is the big challenge facing both bureaucrats and politicians. Designing a way that package tourism whether by land based hotels such as the old colonial investors made in Jamaica and Dominican Republic of the past and which did little or nothing for local people cash flows. Or the new variety of the same theme by foreign owned hotel chains, now called cruise ships. There is both opportunity and challenge here, but it is going to need transformational economic thinking by our local rulers, 5 year elected dictator or not.

Offhand, I would think LAWS forbidding foreign companies controlling and selling local tours and services by packaged floating hotels, would be appropriate for Mexico, Honduras and Belize. All such fees and charges should be done solely within the borders of the country, by locals, or by foreign 49% ownership with 51% ownership operations by Belizeans. The basic idea is to insist, by law if necessary, that everything that is provided as a service, or an attraction, from the moment a group of tourists leave the deck of the floating hotel is paid into the local economy. This may be a regional intergration adjustment made by the three governments in concert, to decide on the way forward when our short term visitor flows changes steadily from 12,000 visitors a day, to 30,000 visitors a day over the next 25 years. So far, our TRANSFORMATIONAL ECONOMICS thinking is way behind the curve. We need to do some brainstorming, to see how the host countries can enforce more dollars spent by the floating hotel cruise ship goes into the local populations pockets. We are inexperienced in this business so far, but it is not hard to see the need and way forward. The cruise ship hotel, should get their money from their hotel. Everything else spent should go to local economies.

1 comment:

Franco said...

Thanks for the info. I'm planning a trip for holidays, and I'd like to spend them in a Luxury hotel in Mexico. I love Mexico!!!