No Cruises In Placencia: Royal Caribbean Refuses to Discuss its Environmental Record

Last month I ran across an interesting blog called No Cruises In Placencia which focuses  on the plight of the tranquil fishing village of Placencia, Belize which Royal Caribbean has targeted as a future site for a new port for its cruise ships.

Placencia is located in southern Belize, and is described as one of the most beautiful locations in Central America where it is known for its beaches and first rate diving and fishing.

No Cruises In PlacenciaBut a portion of the tranquil town may be transformed into a private "tourist village" if the Miami-based cruise line giant Royal Caribbean Cruises has its way.   The cruise line and a group of secret investors already purchased land in the little fishing town with big plans to build a port and a cruise tourist village.

Royal Caribbean has been working behind the scenes for a long time to establish a foot-hole in Placencia.  Most citizens of Placencia did not know that the cruise line had already bought land in the town and was moving forward with their plans to build a port to accommodate their cruise ships.

When word got out the majority of the residents in Placencia were upset that a behind the scene deal deal seemed to be struck.  The No Cruises website explains the issues in a rather straight forward manner - the downside of mass tourism via cruise ship are real and substantial - crime, social and cultural disruption, the loss of character of the town, and the loss of control of your John Tercek - Royal Caribbean Cruises Commercial Developmenthomeland to a multi-national corporation with a felony record of widespread pollution. 

The locals in Placencia raised their legitimate concerns of what a Royal Caribbean designed tourist village would do to their town and lifestyle. 

If history is any lesson, one has to look no further than Royal Caribbean's track record in places like Labadee, Haiti and Falmouth, Jamaica to see what's in store for the people of Placencia.      

The Belize Tourism Board ("BTB") scheduled a public forum where several hundred local citizens spoke out about the project, but they first had to endure a 45 minute lecture by a vice president of Royal Caribbean, John Tercek, who oversees the cruise line's commercial development plans.   

A local newspaper in Belize, the Reporter, wrote about the meeting in an appropriately entitled article "Placencia, A Done Deal?" by Niall Gillett. 

Mr. Gillett commented on some interesting developments at the meeting. Many people questioned the fact that the CEO of the BTB, Mike Singh, had previously worked at Century 21 which brokered the land deal with the cruise line, thus raising the uncomfortable issue of whether individuals on No Cruise In Placencia Belizethe local tourism board profited from the sale of the cruise ship village land. 

The newspaper also wrote that the crowd at the meeting asked Royal Caribbean representative Tercek about issues of pollution, a key concern given this cruise line's deplorable environmental crimes:

“Can you comment on your company’s environmental record?”  VP Tercek refused the microphone.  No comment."

Royal Caribbean is one of the least  transparent corporations in the world, and the worst environmental cruise polluter in the history of the cruise industry.  Its interests are its own corporate bottom line profits - not the welfare, environment or culture of a special place like Placencia.

My Opinion?   Something smells very fishy about these behind the scene deals which are now coming to light.  But the smell is not from the beautiful fishing village of Placencia   .  .  its coming from the corporate office of Royal Caribbean in Miami.

 

Join the Facebook Group:  Keep Cruise Ships Away from Placencia

 

 

Credits:

Top photo:   nocruises.org

Middle photo:  FCCA website

Bottom photo:  Keep Cruise Ships Away from Placencia facebook page  

Video: YouTube via LeslieTech  Placencia, Paradise At The Crossroads- Cruise Tourism Problems & Possibilities (via Marty)

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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Basilio Mes - November 1, 2010 9:14 AM

Great job on reporting this.

Lindsay Howard - November 1, 2010 11:20 AM

Michael Singh, the CEO of the Ministry of Tourism, didn't just "work" at Century 21 - he's the franchise owner for Belize. STILL is the franchise owner.

What he actually said at the consultation is that he doesn't have any day to day duties at the franchise while he's in government. But, he NEVER said he no longer owns the franchise, or that he didn't profit from the sale of the properties.

Mr. Singh, as the Century 21 franchise owner for Belize, DID profit from the sale of the properties at the Placencia dock to Royal Caribbean and other investors.

Further, one of Mr. Singh's group of companies includes a tour operator company that provides fishing trips to cruise ship passengers in Belize City.

Conflict of interest and bias couldn't be more plain to see.

Mr. Singh is also now attempting to stir up racial tensions by claiming publicly in a newspaper article that local people are "afraid" to speak in favor of cruise tourism because they've been intimidated by "white" resort owners, ex-pats and retirees.

If you've ever been to Placencia, you will know that Belizeans are not afraid to speak their minds, no matter who is around to hear them. Further, almost all tour guides in the Placencia area are independent tour guides and work for many different hotels, resorts and tour operators, so they don't even HAVE employers who could or would intimidate them -- and we have had no instances of that kind of behavior in Placencia.

(Mr. Singh and Glen Eiley, former chairman of the Placncia Village Council, both cruise ship supporters, are now focusing on tour guides in their efforts to make it seem as if public sentiment is in favor of cruise ships. Mr. Eiley is heavily involved with the national United Democratic Party and has benefited from their largesse, so he may be the one who is being pressured, not the tour guides.)

Royal Caribbean not only did not answer questions about the environment at the public consultation, it also did not answer direct questions about the size of the cruise ships that would call at Placencia if its proposal is approved.

Instead, in the manner of Mr. Singh dissembling about his financial involvement with the sale/purchase of the dock properties by RCCL, Mr. Tercek gave a presentation about cruise tourism in the Caribbean, including small ships, that made it seem as if RCCL has a number of small cruise ships in the Caribbean, and plans to order more, neither of which are true.

The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

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