Ministry of Tourism, BTB, and Tourism Police commit to address tour operator issues in San Pedro
Members of the San Pedro Tour Operators Association (SPTOA) met with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ministry of Tourism, Acting Director of the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), and head of the Tourism Police Unit on Wednesday, April 21st, to discuss various issues relating to tour operators on the island. The government representatives listened to the issues brought up by SPTOA members, such as the operation of unlicensed tour operators. The representatives committed to tackling the situation by increasing inspections and improving enforcement. The option to categorize licenses and address the alleged violations in the Qualified Retirement Program (QRP) was also discussed.
Held at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve conference room, SPTOA Chairman Roberto Canul welcomed CEO Nicole Solani, BTBís Acting Director Evan Tillett, and Tourism Police Unit head, Allison McLaughlin. Several tour operators attended the meeting where the main topic was the need for enforcement and prosecution. The information shared in the forum revealed that there are many island residents running vacation rentals who are operating as tour operators. Tour guides have also been noticed acting as tour operators. These activities are illegal as only licensed tour operators can provide such services. Some examples provided are home rentals with a boat offering their customers snorkelling or fishing tours. They are not legally authorized to do so; however, it goes under the radar because of no enforcement. Tour guides owning a boat are reported conducting their own tours when their license does not allow them to do so. This led to the other topic touching on the need to categorize licenses. The licenses should notify holders of what they can and cannot do within a specific category. The issue of QRPs opening businesses and offering tours was another issue brought to the panel.Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun