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.
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)