Cruise Ships Squash Belize

Since I already annoyed half the cruise ship industry in the last post, might as well get the other half riled up as well. There’s a disturbing Belize article in the March issue of National Geographic Traveler titled, “A Reef Takes a Dive.” It’s not posted online yet, but hopefully will be later. Meanwhile, you can check out how Belize fared in the World Heritage Sites survey they did last year, in which I was a participant.

Belize is the land of diving, but this dive wasn’t a good thing: “On our 2006 ‘places rated’ survey, the Belizean reef system scored a mere 47, a shocking drop of 11 points in less than three years, down into the ‘worst’ category.”

So what happened? They’ve got two words for you: cruise ships. “The government in 2003 apparently yielded to greed and temptation, ignoring Belize’s successful geotourism approach focused on nature, culture, and archeology. Instead it embraced mass tourism. Cruise ships now flood the ruins and reef with passengers. New resorts strip away mangroves essential to the ecosystem and fisheries.”

Yes, global warming isn’t helping and Hurricane Mitch hit the place with a body blow in 1998. But most of the worst damage is man-made. Here’s the worst part: “Belize does extract a $7-a-head cruise passenger tax, of which $4 goes to build facilities for: more cruise ships.”

Does anyone riding on these floating mega-hotels know? Or care?

  1. J Huggard

    While I know it appears, nobody onboard the vessels cares about any environmental damage anywhere in the world, as long as they are having a good time on their cruise, there are increasing numbers beginning to speak up about shipboard shameful acts. A $7 head tax is nowhere near enough, but when we the people try to get more, such as in Alaska with a $50 headtax, politicias who are deep in the industry pockets only roll back the progress citizens have worked so hard to achieve. Maybe no cruise ship should be allowed in any ports. Have them tender in and out of ports from international waters. That should keep the industry at bay and give them time to rethink their responsibility to the environment. It would also force them to stay in the ports they are registered in, when weather was foul, instead of putting out to sea, risking the lives of all onboard. If they get hit deep enough in their pockets, they will race to become socially and environmentally responsible.

  2. Marilyn Terrell

    We hadn’t planned to post the story online, but now we’re considering it. Thanks for the feedback!

  3. John Dickson

    Right now Belize is looking into Oil exploration as we speak. While on our trip around the world we stopped in at Belize this last October for a month and at least the locals are pushing hard to keep the oil drilling away. But of course the government says no drilling we are only exploring. Cross our fingers they do not go for another money grab or that will be the largest and 2nd largest barrier reefs dying. We have some more scoops on Belize in our couple travel website .

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