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?