How many cruise line passengers think about the impact they’re having in the places where they alight for a day or less? You can forgive them if it’s not on their radar—the executives running those cruise lines don’t seem too concerned either. When dealing with a small and fragile country like Belize, the result can be slash-and-burn tourism at its worst.
There’s a great article in National Geographic Traveler on the tense negotiations between Belize and the cruise ship industry: Shore is a Shame. Belize faces the problem many destinations have dealt with since the dawn of these floating hotels: take the lure of fast and easy money these big ship companies promise, or say no and bring in far fewer visitors each year. Unfortunately, there’s not much middle ground, with negotiations often taking a “our way or the highway” route, the cruise ships holding all the leverage.
In Belize the big issue is the harm all these huge crowds are having on formerly sparsely crowded Maya ruins sites. The industry is balking at an admission park rise to $10 (still among the lowest in the world). “That increase, Belize officials maintain, is desperately needed to better care for the same parks that receive high traffic from cruise passengers.” But “Carnival warned them that it might pull out of the country if its demands were not met.”
So the government must allow its parks to continue to be trampled by the hordes for a pittance. “The cruise line’s threat to cut back its ship visits to Belize forced the government to abandon the proposed increase in national park fees. The cruise industry may have set sail on sustainability, but it has yet to bring it into port.”
See the full story here.