Norwegian Cruise Line is to develop a 75 acre, environmentally friendly cruise destination in Southern Belize.
As part of the US$50 million project, Norwegian will develop Harvest Caye, which consists of two adjoining islands in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts that had previously been approved for a resort development with an airstrip.
“As our fleet continues to grow to 15 ships by 2017, we expect that we will double the number of guests sailing on our Western Caribbean itineraries and when this new destination is complete, bring four times as many guests to Belize than we do today,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian’s president and CEO. “In our quest to continuously look for new and exciting destinations for our guests, we plan to develop a cruise destination focused on sustainable design and eco-friendly principles that will retain the natural beauty and local culture of this tropical paradise.”
Florida-based company Idea will design the branded destination, which will integrate the Belizean, Mayan and Garifuna history and culture with the needs of cruise passengers. While the master plan is still under development, it is expected that the site will feature a mainland connection point for tours to the mainland, as well as an island village with open-air structures on raised platforms, a floating pier and a marina. It is also set to offer a lagoon for a variety of water sports and a beach area.
“This project will set a new standard in the development of an eco-friendly destination,” said Hugh Darley, president of Idea. “Rather than an imposed plan, we are focused on a design approach that is determined by the local environment to ensure that the unique surroundings and features of the area will be protected and showcased for all to enjoy.”
Norwegian has signed a memorandum of understanding with Belize’s government to ensure that the development adheres to the country’s environmental standards, generates local jobs and has a significant economic impact.
The cruise line plans to create around 1,000 local jobs and will offer Belizeans the chance to work on both the project and at the destination when it is complete.
Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow has approved the plans, stating that they will generate increased head tax revenues and enable the country to comply with the National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan by relieving cruise tourism pressures in the city centre.