Was doubting to put this under "Cayo" or "News", just the very topic of raising departure taxes made me furious, note that 20% of the increase was meant for the BTIA (they really showed courage here!). I am really happy and impressed that BTIA hasn't taken the bait!
27th October, 2010
Mr. Gabino Canto
Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries
West Block Building
Dear Mr. Canto,
Thank you for sharing with us a copy of the proposal for the upgrading of the Caracol Road which is being considered for submission to the Government’s Cabinet for consideration.
Our Board of Directors has discussed this proposal and the BTIA cannot support an increase in departure tax or taxes as a means to recover the cost of upgrading the road. Tourism is only one of many sectors that could generate revenues from this improved infrastructure; therefore, the BTIA is not in agreement with only the tourism sector being taxed to pay for it. There was no increase in tax for the upgrading of the Placencia Road or the Southern Highway nor a suggestion for a toll system as a cost recovery measure; therefore, recommending this would be setting a precedent for all future improvements on roads and highways. It suggests therefore, that consultation and research is still needed to determine the most appropriate cost recovery measure.
Additionally, while it is recognized that infrastructure development in Belize does greatly contribute to the improved product development of the tourism industry and that the Mountain Pine Ridge area is one such area of the product that offers a wide range of tourist attractions but whose accessibility has been one of the main challenges for developing the area and expanding opportunities for tourism businesses, the BTIA cannot support the proposal until a more systematic financial analysis is carried out that justifies the cost of the road which takes into more detailed account the increased financial revenues, the projected growing economic activity in the area and the cost to maintain the road.
It is our considered view that fixing the road alone is not sufficient to induce adequate economic growth in this part of the country. Although benefits will be plentiful, negative impacts have to be recognized before the project is designed such as road safety, security and wildlife conservation.
We recognize that the proposal is calling for a 20% portion of the fee to be allocated to BTIA; however, we do not support that BTIA should derive benefits from additional taxes imposed on the industry.
We thank you for sharing the proposal with us for our review and look forward to hearing when the necessary consultations will be had to determine the priority in upgrading the road and how best the road can be financially sustained so that a revised proposal can be developed. We assure you of our efforts to encourage our membership and key sector representatives to attend and participate in those discussions towards a reasonable mechanism for the road improvement.
President, Belize Tourism Industry Association
Mr. Lindsay Garbutt – Chairman of the Board of Director, BTB
Ms. Seleni Matus – Director of Tourism
Mr. Joel Torres – President BNTOA
Mr. Cassian Aguet – President BNTGA