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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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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

Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 6,267
Well you can say that somebody charges tourists more. Or you can say that vendors give discounts to people of lesser means.
The first sounds nasty, the second compassionate.

Often the locals are volume customers, and as such would qualify for a discount in any case. Other times a hotelier or other local business person is the source of referral business, and as such receives a gesture from a vendor in reduced prices.

The most obvious tiered costing is at Coastal Xpress. It might behoove the management to issue affinity cards for those who are being granted discounts. Much like senior and student discounts that are common in other countries.

I'm all against gouging and support fair pricing, but the idea that discounts are unfair doesn't sit well with me either.

Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,461
Gorging? Fighting words

Belize based travel specialist
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Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,828
Hon Offline
This is not unique to Belize. I grew up in Niagara Falls and could get a discount of 15% to 50% at hotels, restaurants and attractions by showing my drivers license with a local address. Anytime we had visitors, someone in our family would make their reservations and/or tour them around so that their vacation would be a bit cheaper.

Newfoundlanders are the only people in heaven who want to go home.
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 5,563
I agree with Diane

I tell all my guest to never say "Is that US or BZ dollars?" The answer to that question is always "US" because obviously the person doesn't know. Many times the answer should be BZ.

However, I have to go on to explain that housing, tours and land sales are always in US dollars. It would serve our tourists well if something were printed out explaining this.
I have traveled to countries that do just that.

By the same token, living here and being a repeat customer and a referral agent I do expect to get a discount but I don't expect anyone to be loosing money.

This is a good topic.

Take only pictures leave only bubbles
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 6,267
Real estate prices usually state USD pretty clearly. In this case is not just "value" or "price" that is being quoted, it is the currency in which the property is to be paid. If the price I s 50,000 US, it is likely that the vendor is in the US and is not interested in receiving Belize Dollars, even of an equivalent sum.

In tours, hotels, food etc being sold here, the vendor quotes a price in a particular currency, but rarely cares which currency they receive, and in fact often have a bit of both in their tills.

Restaurants are not supposed to quote prices in USD but many (mostly in resort settings) continue to do so, probably so as not to confuse their guests who are paying for everything else based on a USD quote.
Most menus tell you clearly and in writing which currency the price is in. If you don't see where that is quoted, ask.

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