Belize NCLNorwegian Cruise Line said it acquired a 75-acre property in southern Belize that it intends to develop into an eco-destination for its ships.

The line plans to spend $50 million on the project, which is still being designed.

The land, called Harvest Caye, is made up of two adjoining islands in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts that had previously been approved for a resort development with an airstrip.

Major components of the project would include a floating pier, an island village with open-air structures on raised platforms, a marina, a transportation hub for tours to the mainland, a lagoon for a variety of water sports and a beach area.

Hotel interests in Belize in the past have opposed the development of cruise tourism.

Norwegian said the development would increase the country's head tax revenue and create up to 1,000 local jobs. The company also said it would promote the goal of diversifying tourism away from Belize City, a goal in the government's sustainable tourism master plan.

Norwegian has also created a hiring program to employ Belizeans on its ships while the project is completed. They would have priority in hiring at the eco-facility.

A memo of understanding with Belize calls for strict adherence to environmental standards, Norwegian said.

Norwegian retained IDEA Inc. of Orlando to design the project and bring it to fruition. It did not say when the resort might open.

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