Tourism and Taxes
Tourism is certainly Belize's top industry in terms of its multi - faceted economic contribution to the nation. Rapid changes occurring in the global and regional tourism markets have made it difficult for Belize to compete effectively. It is because of its backward linkages to other sectors of the economy and because of its role as a generator of demand for the products of many other economic sectors in Belize, that tourism investment by both government and private sector holds the brightest future for the industry itself and the economy as a whole.
However it is because of this bright future that governments at times tend to squeeze the goose that lays the golden egg. Here I refer to direct taxes placed against tourism facilities, tours, departure taxes, entrance fees etc. By design Belize's levies in these areas are the lowest in the region, however this does not mean that there is room to raise taxes on these already taxed sectors. Then of course much consideration must be taken into account of indirect taxation such on the industry such as fuel taxes, import duties etc. Belize like many of its Caribbean neighbors suffer from over priced hotel rooms as a result of high operating cost, such as, telephone, electricity, transportation, water, labor and imports, making Belize and the Caribbean of having the lowest profitability in the accommodation sector anywhere in the world.
Too many times governments see the tourism industry as easy prey to levy a few dollars here and there without proper justification. One of the most important factors of a successful tourism destination is its ability to provide good "value for the dollar" This perceived value essentially is what visitors receives in terms of " the product" i.e. accommodations, goods and services etc. If these perceived values are out of line as result of over taxation, particularly as it relates to your destination competitors, then Belize's tourism industry could be threaten by visitation losses. In the next issue I will discuss specifically areas where tourism is taxed unjustly. Until then... Tourism We Make It Happen"
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