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#167106 - 12/11/01 08:36 PM New higher fees for Hol Chan/Shark-Ray?
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
If I understand correctly, the somewhat confusing story in the San Pedro Sun, as of Dec. 27, new fees are being required for visits to Shark-Ray Alley.

Visit to the "main" Hol Chan: US$2.50
Visit to Shark-Ray Alley: US$3.50
Visit to both in one day: US$5

This in addition to the US$15-$25 per person fee charged by guides to take tourists out in boats to the reserve.

Also, if I understand correctly, rangers at the reserve no longer will be able to sell tickets. These have to be purchased at the Hol Chan office or, I presume, will be sold by the snorkel tour operators.

I don't object to this fee per se, because it helps Belize's park system (at least we hope it does) but I must say that Belize is getting close to killing the golden goose with the snorkel fees.

Based on my experience in writing five or six books on Belize, I would say one of the top five questions asked by prospective visitors is "Where can I snorkel from the shore without paying money to take a boat out to snorkel?" I believe there are literally thousands of prospective visitors to Belize who never come here because they are turned off by the prospect of having to pay for, and hassle with, a boat to take them snorkeling. These people go to Coz, Playa del Carmen or elsewhere in the Yucatan, or they go to Bay Islands of Honduras, or they go the Caribbean islands such as Grand Caymen, Tortola, St. Thomas, etc. where there is good shore snorkeling for no extra fee. Certainly Tobacco Caye, South Water and other cayes on the reef are benefiting from this perceived problem, despite their relative lack of amenities.

I believe that Belize could market its snorkeling as being so good that the boat ride is not a factor, but so far hasn't done so ... and increasing fees is only going to make things worse.

--Lan Sluder

Belize books and publications by Lan Sluder:
Belize First Magazine (http://www.belizefirst.com)
Fodor's Belize & Guatemala Guide
Belize First Guide to Mainland Belize
Adapter Kit: Belize (the first and only comprehensive guide to living, retiring, working and investing in Belize)
UpClose Central America
San Pedro Cool (coming soon)
_________________________
Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com

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#167107 - 12/12/01 08:27 PM Re: New higher fees for Hol Chan/Shark-Ray?
Bad Dog Offline
Thanks for the heads up, Lan
_________________________
The Original Bad Dog

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#167108 - 12/12/01 09:01 PM Re: New higher fees for Hol Chan/Shark-Ray?
Willy Offline
It is all about greasing pockets, I assure you.
_________________________
Freedom of choice--what a concept!

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#167109 - 12/12/01 09:12 PM Re: New higher fees for Hol Chan/Shark-Ray?
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
The San Pedro Sun was kind enough to e-mail me to confirm that my interpretation is correct.

Currently the fee to visit both Hol Chan and Shark-Ray Alley is US$2.50. (A fee to visit Shark-Ray Alley was technically in effect but had never been collected.) Starting at the end of December, the fee jumps to US$5, if both are visited in one day, or US$2.50 plus US$3.50 (total US$6) if visited separately.

This is an effective fee increase of 100% to 140%.

--Lan Sluder
_________________________
Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com

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#167110 - 12/14/01 05:28 PM Re: New higher fees for Hol Chan/Shark-Ray?
Chris Offline
If the government actually do something about protecting both sites 24/7 from illegal fishing and careless coral stomping divers and snorkelers then the fees will be well worth it.

Lan, you are not going to be able to snorkel with the multitude and variety of marine life available at HC and SRA anywhere else in the Caribbean without paying a fee. You can't see such a concentration of marine life off the beaches of the Bay Islands, Tobacco Caye etc. Good snorkeling amongst pretty coral and some fish, but NOT bunches of friendly sharks, rays, grouper, huge schools of snapper etc. such as you see at HC/SRA.

And, speaking of Cozumel.....if you want to beach snorkel where there is any marine life to speak of, (and NOT near as much as HC/SRA) you have to pay for that at Chankanaab Marine Park and share the water with about 500 other snorkelers in close proximity.

Ambergris Caye doesn't have any coral reef within easy swimming distance of the shore. I did drop a rock into the sea off the beach near where I live a few months ago, but no luck yet, no coral is growing on it. So the boat ride is a fact of life, it has to be paid for, and having to protect a few select areas from human destruction so that we don't have to swim in empty seas is totally 100% necessary.

And, $5.00US for the park fees??? Is that REALLY the deciding factor for 1000's of people not visiting Belize each year? Or is it a combination of expensive flights, lack of advertising, hurricanes, recessions, terrorism and competition from other destinations in the Caribbean and Central America?

For those interested in a real snorkeling adventure.....how about night snorkeling by the piers off San Pedro? I've had awesome snorkeling with rays, morays, sea horses, fish of all species, sea cucumbers, sea hares, lobster, shrimp, nurse sharks. Now, I did have to pay for the batteries for my underwater light, so for the thousands of you who will be put off visiting our gorgeous Belize by this terrible expense,..... get a life.

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#167111 - 12/14/01 07:05 PM Re: New higher fees for Hol Chan/Shark-Ray?
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
Chris,

BZ$10 or $12 is not the deciding factor, of course, but it is part of the package of information that prospective visitors to Belize use in making a decision about whether to come.

More important to visitors is the total cost of snorkeling, which in San Pedro or Placencia or most places runs US$15 to $25 or more per person per boat trip. That adds up.

My point was that must be a way to market Belize snorkeling so that it is a real positive, despite the cost of fees and boats.

--Lan Sluder
_________________________
Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com

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#167112 - 12/14/01 07:25 PM Re: New higher fees for Hol Chan/Shark-Ray?
VIPER Offline
As a resident of AC I am more concerned that most of the tourist income for the country of Belize is coming from AC or Calker and yet nearly all of the money collected in taxes, fees, etc. is passed to the "government" without stopping to improve or support the source. It seems the prverbial "golden goose" has her eggs stolen and is left to fend for herself when local needs such as power, sewer, streets, etc. arise. Looks like politics at it's best doesn't it?

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#167113 - 12/15/01 01:15 AM Re: New higher fees for Hol Chan/Shark-Ray?
pedro Offline
I cannot believe what I am reading.
The average spend of average American Tourist from LA
Flight 750usd 750
Hotel 75usd per night 525usd
Food 50usd per day 350usd
Taxis 50usd 50usd
Airport taxes 60usd
Cart Rental 100usd
Shopping for crap 250usd
Visiting 2 ruins 185usd
Tropic Air 96usd
Drinks and Entertainment 700usd

Total so far 3066usd

Sorry Elmer the 30usd that we'd have to pay to go snorkelling means we have to avoid Belize. Let's go to Afghanistan instead!

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