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#516018 - 07/16/16 11:18 AM BTB implements New Minimum Standards for Hotels
Marty Offline
The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), along with the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), have been conducting a comprehensive review that seeks to improve the minimum standards for Hotels and Tourist Accommodations in Belize. As proposed by the Hotel Act (No. 12 of 1997), the BTB is visiting different chapters to inform them about the updated National Classification System for Accommodations. The most recent consultation was held on Thursday, June 23rd in San Ignacio, Cayo, where BTB’s proposal was met with disapproval.

A total of 45 hoteliers from the Cayo District met to discuss the new minimum standards, and the general consensus was that this adjustment would have a ripple effect on the tourism industry. Judy duPlooy, President of the BTIA-Cayo Chapter, expressed her concern over the new proposed standards. “No one is opposed to regulations pertaining to health, safety and emergency measures. However, the new proposed Minimum Standards, which total 532 items for the hotel category far exceed reasonable requirements for an extremely diverse marketplace. Furthermore, many of the items on the checklist are not relevant criteria for renewing or obtaining a license,” said duPlooy.

In addition, the BTIA-Cayo Chapter sent out a survey to members to evaluate the potential impact of BTB’s proposals. The survey sought information on operations, staffing, existing compliance, and costs for meeting compliance. The results of the survey will be presented, and shared at the upcoming National BTIA meeting. It was suggested that the results be used as a set of alternative updated standards to present to BTB, prior to the final approval of their proposed minimum standards.

In a letter to the editor, Sharyn Brinker, Manager of Mariposa Jungle Lodge, argues that the new proposed minimum standards are not necessities, and fears that many businesses could be closed down. “Less than 15% of the proposed requirements involve health, safety or any other arguably appropriate topic of regulation. For example, BTB proposes to regulate the furnishings and decorations in hotel rooms, the role of personnel, the color of linens, and literally hundreds of items that are beyond the purview of reasonable or typical regulation. It simply makes no sense. (1) If a facility has a bar, bakery or pastry products must be provided. (2) As a licensing requirement, anyone that serves meals must offer a daily menu with at least two choices per course. (3) To qualify as a licensed resort, a facility must offer color TV with remote control and cable or satellite service. The regulation of tourism facilities should be limited to health, safety and emergency issues, all with due regard to the realities of the marketplace and the current Belize infrastructure,” said Brinker.

Meanwhile, Herbert Haylock from the BTB explains that this is an on-going process, and is not a new initiative. “These are standards from 1999, and we want to make sure that hotels adhere to the current minimum standards. The purpose of us having these consultations is to obtain feedback from all vectors to enhance, as well as upgrade the services and quality of the standards. Our process as we are moving forward is to identify and ensure that the minimum standards relates to the regulations now, and provide opportunity to receive feedback. We have until July 18th to deliver commentary, we will be reviewing the information and feedback for two weeks until a final decision is made,” said Haylock.

BTIA is in the process of preparing a report with all their recommendations, and they will be sent to the BTB for consideration. The BTIA anticipates that these comprehensive dialogues will result in a National Classification System for Accommodations that will satisfy its members and will help to bring the industry to another notch in its continued development. The new legislation of the approved minimum standards will enact the proposed standards by the end of 2016 or early 2017.

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#516079 - 07/19/16 03:13 PM Re: BTB implements New Minimum Standards for Hotels [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Dear Editor:

I want to thank Amandala for publishing the BTIA-Cayo Chapter press release in the June 29 issue. That release articulates the wide range of concerns that have alarmed many of us in the tourism industry. The beauty of Belize embraces its natural wonders and the warmth of its people. Based on the BTB proposal, our government would have us transformed into a limited series of international class five star resorts that are affordable and attractive to a small number of wealthy travellers. We would have no affordable accommodations for the average adventure travellers (BOTH FOREIGN AND LOCAL) who have been the lifeblood of the Belize tourism industry to date.

Less than 15% of the proposed requirements involve health, safety or any other arguably appropriate topic of regulation. For example, BTB proposes to regulate the furnishings and decorations in hotel rooms, the role of personnel, the colour of linens, and literally hundreds of items that are beyond the purview of reasonable or typical regulation. It simply makes no sense. Lest the reader think this is merely industry whining, I offer two of the more absurd proposed requirements. (1) If a facility has a bar, bakery or pastry products must be provided. (2) As a licensing requirement, anyone that serves meals must offer a daily menu with at least 2 choices per course. (3) To qualify as a licensed resort, a facility must offer colour TV with remote control and cable or satellite service. (Do adventure travellers to the Cayo jungle or Mt. Pine Ridge really expect this?) The regulation of tourism facilities should be limited to health, safety and emergency issues, all with due regard to the realities of the marketplace and the current Belize infrastructure.

Belizeans who are not directly concerned about the viability of tourism’s hotel sector should be aware that tourism is a major source of jobs and generates material government revenue, including hotel tax, social security payments, business tax, and major purchaser of food, supplies, vehicles and maintenance parts and services. The economic impact of extraordinary, gratuitous costs on our industry because of excessive, unnecessary and inappropriate regulation would be borne by the entire Belize economy. The irony of this situation is that BTB is supported by the hotel tax revenues we generate.

Belizeans might also be sensitive to the reality that this type of micromanagement regulation is totally inconsistent with the competitive free enterprise system. If these proposals pass, not only will we lose our rights to compete freely, in many cases we (especially small operators) will be forced to close our businesses. Loss of freedom to operate would extend to private homes that welcome missionaries and other voluntary workers who wish to contribute to the culture, natural resources and people of Belize.

I urge all Belizeans to stand up and be counted. Adoption of the proposed minimum standards would hurt virtually everyone and set a dangerous precedent for government control of business beyond the appropriate scope of health, safety and emergency measures.

Respectfully submitted,
Sharyn Brinker,
Proprietor of Mariposa Jungle Lodge Ltd.

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#516080 - 07/19/16 04:37 PM Re: BTB implements New Minimum Standards for Hotels [Re: Marty]
elbert Offline
They have screwed up the dive business also. Lots of rules written by people not in the business.
_________________________
The Dive Shops Daily Blog
http://scubalessonsbelize.blogspot.com/

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#516082 - 07/19/16 04:56 PM Re: BTB implements New Minimum Standards for Hotels [Re: elbert]
ragman Offline
Just government doing what they do best in most instances. wink
_________________________
Jim
Somewhere on a beach in Belize

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#516083 - 07/19/16 05:04 PM Re: BTB implements New Minimum Standards for Hotels [Re: Marty]
Diane Campbell Offline
I agree with Ms. Brinker!!!

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#516086 - 07/19/16 08:30 PM Re: BTB implements New Minimum Standards for Hotels [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Escalators from beach to rooms
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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#516088 - 07/20/16 09:45 AM Re: BTB implements New Minimum Standards for Hotels [Re: Marty]
elbert Offline
That's a joke but I've heard there is a mandatory posting of the room rate in the rooms.
I would expect to see hotel room rates posted on the back of the hotel room door in a dump or room rented by the hour.
_________________________
The Dive Shops Daily Blog
http://scubalessonsbelize.blogspot.com/

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#516094 - 07/20/16 11:27 AM Re: BTB implements New Minimum Standards for Hotels [Re: Marty]
SimonB Offline
"Official furnished units price list visible and available in reception" - Condo Checklist

I haven't seen one that says in the room yet but I wouldn't be surprised.

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#516095 - 07/20/16 11:31 AM Re: BTB implements New Minimum Standards for Hotels [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
These regs will put some out of biz and prevent others from getting into it. Still lots of talking about what is reasonable and what not.
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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#516114 - 07/20/16 06:03 PM Re: BTB implements New Minimum Standards for Hotels [Re: Marty]
SimonB Offline
I used it for an exercise on one property to see how it stacked up as the property had been inspected and licensed already. Under the new licensing requirements it would not pass but only because most of the fail items should have been categorized differently. Those items that were fail were easily rectified in this case. In addition to the licensing component there is a rating system of 2*, 3*, 4* and 5*; if some of the contentious items were moved into 2* instead of being a requirement for licensing everything would be fine.

It was actually a valuable exercise in that it allowed us to objectively look at the property and to set goals for raising the * rating of the property. Being able to legitimately say that your property meets BTB 4* or 5* standards can be a valuable marketing tool.

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