No governing body to monitor this
Tourists have long complained about the double standards on transportation rates and rates for other amenities while visiting Belize. One of the more visible discrepancies is the difference between rates charged for water taxi transportation and taxi services to locals in comparison to what tourists pay. While this may seem unfair, there are no regulatory bodies in Belize that can prevent or monitor these inconsistencies.
In an effort to shed some light on the matter, The San Pedro Sun contacted several authorities that were believed to oversee rate standards. The first body contacted was the Belize Bureau of Standards. They are in charge of consumer protection but have confirmed that they have no say in the transportation rates being charged to tourists. The Bureau is the national body responsible for the preparation, promotion and implementation of standards in relation to goods, services, and processes, and their mission is to create equitable and non-discriminatory market conditions for consumers. While they are responsible for implementing price control on price regulated goods and services, transportation does not fall under their jurisdiction and thus hold no authority over those charging tourists a different price than locals.
The double standards may seem like discrimination, but nothing in the Laws of Belize prevent this from happening. Rates offered by private companies cannot be controlled and there appears to be no law in the books to prevent the act of price gouging tourists.
Tourists visiting Belize are encouraged to familiarize themselves with standard rates prior to their visit and inquire about fees prior to using a service. It is also recommended they determine if the price quoted is in US or BZ currency.
Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun
Sticking it to the rich man
It is common knowledge that for many amenities and services on the island (and country wide), from cabs, to diving, mainland tours, massages, hotel rooms and boat transfers there are local rates and tourist rates. I am certainly guilty of enjoying the local rate whenever possible, and because of my forever Gringa appearance I admit at times I find myself reminding a vendor that I am Belizean when looking for my discount. I appreciate, and even count on receiving the “local rate” because we all know living and playing on La Isla Bonita is not cheap. But, for as much as we enjoy these discounts we need to realize that we are literally biting the hand that feeds us.
Many Belizeans are of the belief that tourists are rich, and because we only see these people spending money, playing hard, partying and working on their tans I understand how some might think that. What we fail to understand is these same people have worked their butts off and saved every penny just to be here, and gosh, yes some may party like rock stars when they are here, but hey, isn’t that what some of us do when on vacation?
That said, can you imagine how tourists would spend even MORE money here if once they paid dearly for their flights and hotel rooms everything else was a good price? Should they really pay DOUBLE what us locals pay for a cab ride or the water taxi? Is this how we treat our guests? The very people we depend on for our very livelihood? Are we living the pirate mentality of, “take all that you can, give nothing back”?
Click here to read the rest of the editorial in the San Pedro Sun