The media asked the BHA President about an announcement last month by the Briceno Government.

It's the Accommodation Tax (Remission of Arrears) Bill of 2022, which was tabled at the July 15th House Meeting.

With this bill, the government is contemplating a 3-month amnesty for businesses within the tourism sector that offer hotel services. Among the group of businesses that could qualify for this proposed forgiveness for tax arrears are those who offer their properties as accommodations on AirBnB.

Viewers may know that these AirBnB operations are direct competitors of the traditional hoteliers, so what do they think about the proposed amnesty? Here's that conversation:

Alindy Marisol Amaya - News Director, KREM News
"What the Government is proposing in relation to the tax amnesty for businesses like condos beyond BnBs and the like that are in the tourism industry, are offering rooms, and so are the members of the Belize Hotel Association? If they aren't, do you see them as competition?"

Reynaldo Malik - President, Belize Hotel Association
"Well, there's always been to be a bit of a conflict between the established hotels and resorts and Airbnbs and other long-term stays, or at least properties that portray themselves to be long-term stays. But they're really just finding loopholes in the law that allows them to put that up. But in reality, there are going to be rent in for three-four months at a time, when clearly the law states that anything under 12 months is considered a short-term stay. And then, you have to be duly registered with the BTB, and you pay the 9% hotel tax on your rooms, etc. In addition to that, though, as an established hotel, an established resort, a guest house, and a lodge, we have major infrastructure investment that we do on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis that you don't see Airbnbs having to do. When we build a hotel, for instance - Mr. Tejada wants to do an expansion, he doesn't get up to and say that the Biltmore is going to do an expansion. He has to do, for instance, a load assessment. He has to talk with BEL and see how that's going to impact the load in this particular area. If he decides to do something entertainment-related in his backyard, he borders a residential area. He has to realize how that's going to impact the people around him. Airbnbs, for the most part, have none of these restrictions on them. They just decide my downstairs is going to be on Airbnb tomorrow morning. So you know, on an annual basis again or biannual? No, we have to go through the licensing process, the BTB comes out, we get audited, etc. There are other requirements that we have to have when we're doing the annual. Licensing. For instance, we have to go through Central Building. You have to work with the fire department. So, all of these things Airbnb are not doing. Their investment is a lot less. And then, to hear that the government is perhaps considering some sort of amnesty for them, I would think, and they would have to research more exactly what it is that they were saying. But I would think that the only way we would support that - and I use that term loosely - would be if the intent is to get them into the fold and make sure that they are paying their taxes duly into the government and that they are meeting other requirements as well. That would put them on par with the larger hotels and more established resorts around the country."

Channel 7