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Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 105
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In a letter dated March 16, 2004 to BTIA's President, Steven Schulte, Ms. Tracy Taegar, Director of Tourism has informed him that the BTB will implement an increase in hotel tax from the rate of 7 percent to 9 percent to take effect on April 1st 2005.

The notification comes more than 12 months before the scheduled implementation date. This has been a request that the BTIA National Board has asked BTB, Sales Tax Department and other tourism related policy departments to take into consideration when implementing any tax increases or new policies.

The BTB comments that there has been no inflationary increase in the hotel tax since 1993 and with the rebalancing of Government's budget as outlined in this year's fiscal exercise, it is unlikely that GOB will be able to inject the annual subvention to support marketing, training & product development initiatives. This 2 percent increase in hotel accommodations tax will allow BTB to safeguard the investments they have been making on behalf of our tourism stakeholders since 1998. Industry stakeholders are urged to begin making plans for the increase.

Doug & Maria Podzun

Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 1,419
I'm "sure" that the 30% increase is justified, and will be allocated for maximum effect much in the same way as the $20 US departure tax on non-residents. Doesn't take a genius to do the math on that one. Of course there are some really nice benches outside the terminal.

Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 233
It's the same the world over is it not? The visitors to Belize have increased a huge amount this first quarter & will continue to climb as it is being featured more & more on television in the U.S. Like any good bureaucrats they love to raise taxes.

While in San Pedro 3 weeks ago I read an article in the local paper entitled,"Will Ambergris Caye Be The Next Cancun?" It may just be the case as they are know going to build a "HUGE" resort south of town. We all know that money talks & BS walks, and you can bet that with-in a few years the quaintness & laidback lifestyle on AC will be a thing of the past. They are now planning to build a bridge at the cut & pave most of the roads
in town. With the growth come more people to the Island to work.They need a place to live & with all the growth comes a strain on the total infrastructure of the entire island. But I must say if I lived there & had to make a living I would of course welcome the growth. Does anyone know of any place that had the growth that wiil take place here,that was handled the correct way?

The worst part of it all is that with all the growth and more money being thrown around,comes an increase in the crime & a spike in the drug folks. There will eventually be more crack heads than dogs running around. If the brain dead college crowd from the U.S come for spring break you can bet on it. Belize is to be featured on "Wild On MTV". Maybe the paved roads will be better so the puke can be scraped off the streets.

I,m sure most of the capital for growth will come from U.S. investors & developers & they could care less what they leave in their wake.

I have some comments to make regarding the "huge" resort being built south of town. Last night, we had an special meeting of the South End Neighborhood Watch to discuss just this issue. There are several new developments going in. The largest is actually right next door to Victoria House. They have been zoned residential, but have been approved by Belmopan to put in 130 units, 3 restaurants, and a casino. Construction has already started. After the land was burned down, causing great disgust to neighbors, these shacks started going up. It looks like the DFC, only closer together. The premise, as told to neighbors, is not to compete for the US trade, but the European trade (does that mean that they believe Europeans will stay in sub-standard lodging??) Just past that, there is another "condo" site going in. Right next to Caribe Island has reportedly just been purchased and another Perla condo project is going in there. But, other than the "DFC" project, the big scuttle right now is a project going in a bit further south. They have been approved to do a 4-story condo. Neighbors are furious, the south end looks and sounds like NYC, and the charm is certainly being compromised. The residents are planning to do whatever we can do, however, remember that we really have no power here at all. The Belizean people will need to take a stand, and I just don't know if that would ever happen. The Tourists can also make a stand, after all, it's your $$$$ that fund Belize.
The basic infrastucture will not support "a little Cancun". We don't have the roads, the water, the sewage, the electricity, etc..... sorry, that's just the facts. I just today heard a frequent visitor to San Pedro complaining that the fishing isn't as good as it was 10 years ago, it's been overfished. The diving isn't as good for the same reason. The safe streets where "no shoes needed" was the motto, forget about that.
That said, I still think that AC has a chance, but something needs to be done NOW. Once we become "a little Cancun", it can never go back.

Joined: May 2000
Posts: 3,281
Well said Vicki. I was in SP last week (sorry I kept missing you) and saw the new "shack colony" resort going in next to VH. Horrible. Like monopoly houses. Makes you kind of wish for a hurricane to wipe it off the face of the island (half kidding but you know what I mean). Not sure what can be done. Once the $$ comes in, the permits get issued. How would you suggest we can help? Isn't there a zoning commission or anything? Or is that all run on greed/"mordida" too? Couldn't believe how BUSY the island was (I am not usually there during high season)! Changing fast & furiously!

Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 601
The project next door to Victoria House...would this be next door to the north...or south of VH?

Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 1,419
Just to the south side of VH. They are the God awfullest looking things. Thought at first that it was some misplaced Mennonite farmer building new chicken coops.

There is only ONE thing that is well understood by the Belizian government, and that is the tourist dollar, and certainly the threatened lack of it.

The principal charm of the country in general, and AC in particular is an "primitive chic" ambiance that is hard to find anywhere else in the Caribbean. On the other hand, that ambiance is definitely NOT for everyone. We have met many visitors who simply would not return because it was just too "rough" for their tastes, not the Temptataion Island BS that they expected.

For the past few years it seems that, in spite of official avowals to the contrary, the government is hell bent on eliminating the charm rather than capitalizing on it. There is a fine balance here, because everything must grow or perish. Vicki is absolutely correct, the visitor's dollar controls the economy of BZ, a well placed letters can be very powerful. The names and addresses are easy to find if one has the inclination.

Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,733
I wrote a letter a while back to the town board titled "People Equal". It was in response to the then concern about the number of vehicles on the island and the proposed moratorium on vehicles. My point was that most of the problems that need addressed on Ambergris Caye are a result of the number of people that island has attracted i.e.: roads, sewer, water, electricity, garbage, etc. There is "quality of life" and "quantity of life". It is unfortunate that there are so many interests that feel that the answer to these problems is more tourists and their dollars. The problem is that the tourist dollar is not being invested in the infrastructure needs in a sufficient amount to keep up with the demand. It is the business interests that are creating the demand bringing more tourists to the island and the resulting need for more and better infrastructure. The government being inefficient and corrupt is not fulfilling its responsibility in addressing these needs. The business community will need to do more.

One of my last business ventures was to develop some land in Arkansas. There are many similarities between there and AC. There was prime lake front land to be developed but the county government did not have the resources to provide the infrastructure for development. There was just too much area to provide roads, water, electricity, etc. and not enough tax revenue to generate the monies to invest in that infrastructure. Once the land was developed the tax revenues would increase. So the solution to the problem was for the developers to make the investment, build the roads, put in the water and electricity lines and recoup their investment on the sale of the land.

Now I ask how much "investment" has the business interests in AC contributed towards the infrastructure needs? How much did the condos and hotels "invest" in providing the infrastructure needs for that increased demand they created? How much of the $250 that a fishing guide gets for a days fishing goes to "investing" in the infrastructure needs created by the tourist coming to fish?

This is not meant to point fingers at any one group. But, in order to find solutions to the problem, you must identify the source of the problem. In this case it is the quantity of people coming to AC almost solely as result of the tourists industry. Now if the government is not able to make the necessary investment in infrastructure to support this, I would suggest the responsibility would then go to those profiting from that. Maybe the business community needs to find a way to direct some of those profits towards the needs. And maybe the community as a whole needs to realize that maybe the moratorium needed is one to slow or even stop the growth of people until the "investment" needed is made. This is not a dilemma as confusing as which comes first, the chicken or the egg. The investment MUST come first. Profits will come and will continue to come if the investment is made and the quality of life will keep pace with the quantity of life.

Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 1,419


Joined: May 2000
Posts: 1,191
"The south end looks and sounds like NYC, and the charm is certainly being compromised."

....what total nonsense. I agree that the project next to VH is in the worst possible taste...unfortunately it is legal. But, I hardly think the south end of the island is getting out of hand developmentally.

And as for the "4 story condo" ....the "4th story" is a loft bedroom set inside the long as the developers stay close to the height limit I fail to see the harm in that, especially if they have approval from the ACPA. If the roof were built without the loft bedroom wouldn't it still be the same height?

Vicky, your over the top ranting does nothing to promote "the south side" ....isn't that where you are trying to run a resort? Do you want to imply that Caribe Island Resort is surrounded by Bronx-like development? I think not.

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