The economic contribution of Ambergris Caye is huge and to appreciate how much money is generated on the island, it is important to point out some statistics. San Pedro has 154 registered hotels and resorts out of a total of 765 in the entire country. That is equivalent to 1,774 rooms out of the 7,210 registered in the entire country. According to government figures, the tourism industry is the second largest revenue earner for the country (second to agriculture) and the main economic driving force for Ambergris Caye. Tourism contributed an estimated $1.2 billion to the country’s economy in 2013. It is estimated that 46 % of that revenue collected by the GOB was contributed through the economic activities on Ambergris Caye. That figure is approximately $552 million. GOB’s sources of tourism revenue are through accommodation taxes, Hotel Application and License Fees, Live-Aboard Taxes, Cruise Head Tax, Tour Guide Licensing Fees, Tour Operator Licensing Fees, Qualified Retirement Program [QRP] Fees, General Sales Tax on Restaurant and Bar Services and Tours, Business Tax on Accommodation, Restaurant and Bar Services and Tours and Business Tax on the Sale of Condominiums.
Those figures do not reflect General Sales Tax (GST), business tax, import duties and Social Security contributions from other business on Ambergris Caye. For example a medium-sized business that employs five people on Ambergris Caye with an annual gross profit of $360,000 can pay up to $30,000 in GST. In addition to business taxes and Social Security, one business alone can pay as much as $37,500 to the government coffers annually.
But for the world’s #1 Island (according to TripAdvisor), and despite contributing so much, the island sees much neglect and countless issues affecting it. According to the Leader of the Opposition Francis Fonseca, the promise made by his party reflects the new economic reform agenda of the PUP for 2014 and beyond. “We need a new, more progressive and equitable budgetary process that allows communities like San Pedro to realize a greater, fairer return on the revenue it generates for the National Economy. This means that we must review and reform the tax structure in consultation with the private sector. We must review GST, Business Taxes, Hotel Taxes, Duties, and all other taxes on inputs into the Tourism Sector to ensure that we are providing incentives for growth and new investments in tourism,” said Fonseca. “At present, the allocation of Government revenue under the Budget each fiscal year is largely unplanned and inequitable. This has resulted, for example, in this United Democratic Party (UDP) government spending more than $100M on projects in Belize City while many rural communities remain neglected, some even without the basic necessities of water and electricity.”
Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun