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Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business

Posted By: SP Daily

Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 06/22/10 01:24 AM

Calgary, AB Canada (YYC)Belize City, Belize (BZE)$1021 Calgary, AB Canada (YYC)Cancun, Mexico (CUN)$390 Calgary, AB Canada (YYC)Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Mexico (ZIH)$350 Calgary, AB Canada (YYC)Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR)$1159 Calgary, AB Canada (YYC)Panama City, Panama (PTY)$1159 Calgary, AB Canada (YYC)San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)$953 Calgary, AB Canada (YYC)San Salvador, El Salvador (SAL)$994 Edmonton, AB Canada (YEG)Cancun, Mexico (CUN)$528 Halifax, NS Canada (YHZ)Cancun, Mexico (CUN)$549 Montreal, QC Canada (YUL - Trudeau)Cancun, Mexico (CUN)$477 Montreal, QC Canada (YUL - Trudeau)Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Mexico (ZIH)$631 Toronto, ON Canada (YYZ)Cancun, Mexico (CUN)$382 Toronto, ON Canada (YYZ)Mazatlan, Mexico (MZT)$651 Toronto, ON Canada (YYZ)Panama City, Panama (PTY)$691 Toronto, ON Canada (YYZ)Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (PVR)$388 Toronto, ON Canada (YYZ)San Jose del Cabo, Mexico (SJD)$618 Toronto, ON Canada (YYZ)San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)$634 Vancouver, BC Canada (YVR)Cancun, Mexico (CUN)$559 Vancouver, BC Canada (YVR)Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR)$864 Vancouver, BC Canada (YVR)Panama City, Panama (PTY)$1003 Vancouver, BC Canada (YVR)San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)$864
Posted By: seashell

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 06/22/10 01:44 AM

Jumpin' . . . I think I should go to Mexico. I can go twice.

Oh yeah . . . forgot, have only been back to Mexico once since discovering Belize. Don't care anymore for Mexico, at least the parts to which I have been.

Yes, airfare is painful, but worth it for me. It certainly makes sense as to why Belize doesn't get a lot of new tourists though, especially families.

Lots of friends of mine have wanted to take their families to Belize, discuss it with me at length, look at all my pictures, borrow (and never return) my BTB magazines, and then later, I find out that they are going to Mexico or some other AI place, because it is just to fricken' expensive to take the whole family to BZ due to airfare.
Posted By: Keller

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 06/22/10 02:22 AM

If the Belize Tourism Board can fix the cost of airfare to Belize City everything else will fix itself. It's certainly the #1 problem.
Posted By: seashell

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 06/22/10 02:30 AM

What can BTB do about that? Mexico gov't subsidizes the airline industry. Belize can't possibly do that.
Posted By: seashell

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 06/22/10 02:30 AM

Airfare to Costa Rica is about the same as to BZ, but lots of people still go there. What's that about?
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 06/22/10 05:28 AM

Costa Rica is much less expensive for lodging, food, tours, etc.
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 06/23/10 01:30 PM

Dallas/Cabo, all inc, air, hotel $649

Dallas/Bze, air only $744
Posted By: jamesp

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/05/10 05:24 AM

I guess because of less population so they can't min. cost... is that true?
Posted By: shuffles

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/05/10 02:13 PM

I have discussed this with various airline personnel.....they say that it is the "volume" of people traveling to BZE that is the issue. This does have something to do with the population. I have asked how the flight could be so much cheaper to go from say Miami to Quito than it is from Miami to Belize City. Their answer is that they can make up the costs in the number of flights/people that travel to and from there, because the population is so much bigger.

I would agree that the only way would be for GOB to subsidize the airfare, if only for one year, in order to increase the volume of traffic, then maybe the airlines would drop their rates?

I'm not sure about this, just the info I have gotten by asking around.
Posted By: belizelaw

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/05/10 02:55 PM

I understand that Belize may have subsidized USAir's airfare when it first opened a route from Charlotte. A friend of mine worked at USAir and told me that. At that time, US ran flights every day from Clt, and the prices were always below $500 (I even got a ticket for the winter one trip for $290!). I suspect if that's true, when it stopped was when you saw flights from Clt trickle down to being weekend-only.
Posted By: jamesp

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/05/10 05:39 PM

"I would agree that the only way would be for GOB to subsidize the airfare, if only for one year, in order to increase the volume of traffic, then maybe the airlines would drop their rates?"

Ha~ I would say you got fat chance to wait GOB to subsidize the airfare! trust me GOB only collect money but not even want to pay any penny for good to Belize.
Posted By: Northern Canuck

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/05/10 06:21 PM

For two; Toronto to Roatan $1666 (Continental) or $1795 (Delta), Toronto to BZE $1648 (Continental)or $2179 (Delta). Although RTB may be more expensive than BZE (depending on airline) you quickly make up the difference in cost of condo rental/lodging, food, beer/wine/rum and lack of the necessity to rent a golf cart.
Posted By: ragman

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/05/10 10:06 PM

On a $659.45 BOS to BZE on Continental there are $311 in fees. the Belize and the US fees seem modest but the fuel surcharge is a killer. mad
I've read various reasons for this surcharge and I've never been able to figure who is responsible for it and if it can be reduced.

Taxes/Fees
U.S. Federal Transportation Tax $16.10
U.S. Security Service Fee $7.50
Fuel Surcharge $240.00
U.S. Passenger Facility Charge $12.00
U.S. APHIS User Fee $5.00
U.S. Immigration User Fee $7.00
U.S. Customs User Fee $5.50
Bellize Conservation Tax $3.75
Belize Passenger Service Charge $15.00
Belize Security Tax $2.50
Belize Airport Development Fee $18.00
U.S. Federal Transportation Tax $16.10

Certain taxes/fees list above are included in the originally quoted price.
Posted By: seashell

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/05/10 10:45 PM

Northern Canuk, I've often wished one could rent a golf cart in West End. Not that I'd need or want to use it everyday, but it would be nice once in a while. If one wants to see the island, there's the bus . . .erm, thanks no, the combi's, well maybe . . .taxi's, OK but spendy for a day trip . . .car rentals aren't cheap (not needed for West End only for traveling whole island) . . . scooters, DANGEROUS . . . water taxi from West End to West Bay, best deal going!!
Posted By: Northern Canuck

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/06/10 02:35 AM

I agree seashell about the water taxi, but if you are in West End there is no real need for transportation unless you have a load of groceries. The collectivos serve their purpose and certainly can be 'intersting' if you want to see the rest of the island or go for groceries in Coxen Hole or French Harbour. Yes taxis can be expensive especially on 'cruise days' and only someone who thought they were invinceable would rent a scooter... although it looks like fun! All in all the transportation costs are less than on AC (unless you are right in San Pedro).
Posted By: seashell

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/06/10 02:40 AM

I know. I walk from one end of West End to the other, at least once a day. I've never walked all the way to West Bay, but I know people that do. As for groceries, well, not far to go from the produce truck or Jackson's or Woodies or, um, the other one, even with a load of groceries (meaning two or three bags). I'd just like to take a golf cart over to West Bay once in a while, or have it for going to Black Pearl of an evening.

Other drivers are so damn scary, that I don't want to even drive a rental around the island, let alone a scooter!! Better that I hire a decent driver and it is still a great way to spend the day, and price is nothing in comparison to an all day trip in Belize.

It should be pointed out though that the water taxis that are so cheap, are just little pangas, as a rule and completely shut down at sunset.
Posted By: Cooper

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/06/10 02:55 AM

Its the taxes and airport fees that keep fares here high..if you remember 5 yrs ago it was an average fare RT SFO..LAX..$400 rt...dallas..Miami about $290 RT..when they expanded the airports capacity for BIG planes hoping to pull in direct European flights that Belize Government jacked up the fees. They really dont have a clue what they have done by reducing tourism here,
Still RT flights from Cancun to most US destinations are about $350...compared to $800 from Belize..we thought we would never have to go that route again...but just did...
Posted By: shuffles

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/06/10 01:54 PM

....and they never did get the airport finished so that the big European planes can fly direct.........Europeans still mostly come through Cancun, as for the most part, they hate going through customs and immigration in the US.....
Posted By: Phil

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/07/10 06:37 PM

Originally Posted by Cooper
Its the taxes and airport fees that keep fares here high..if you remember 5 yrs ago it was an average fare RT SFO..LAX..$400 rt...dallas..Miami about $290 RT..when they expanded the airports capacity for BIG planes hoping to pull in direct European flights that Belize Government jacked up the fees. They really dont have a clue what they have done by reducing tourism here,
Still RT flights from Cancun to most US destinations are about $350...compared to $800 from Belize..we thought we would never have to go that route again...but just did...


I'm not sure that's true Debbie, Source? If you look at the above breakdown it is the fuel surcharge and that seems to be a cost added by the airline, not Belize Government or Airport Co. Cancun flights are reportedly that low due to subsidies.
Posted By: chris45

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/08/10 02:12 AM

however you analyse the airfares, wshereever you attribute the blame, I don't think there is ANY DOUBT WHATEVER that it is the cost of getting here which holds back Belize tourism.
at my little resort we have concrete evidence (ie e mails from enquirers telling us that after due reflection travel costs have been too great etc etc)of this.
The problem is that the people who COULD make a difference, BTB and BTIA, have consistently buried their heads in the sand over this issue.
Oh we need to focus on encouraging tourists from South and Central America. NONESENSE!
Oh we need to focus on all-inclusive package holidays from Europe MORE NONESENSE!
these people are woefully out of touch with the realities of the tourism industry.
Thank God there is no tourism exhibition in Russia otherwise there would be a BTB "mission" to see if we can attract Russian tourists.
The truth as shown by the posts on this thread, is clear for all to see. Why can't they see it?
I suppose all this is not visible from the ivory towers in Regent street
Posted By: Phil

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/08/10 04:56 PM

Chris it seems the problem has no solution and it's certainly beyond BTB BTIA etc and even GOB. Airline fees are high. We have a tiny population that generates little Intl traffic for family vists or business. We have less than 500 Hotels so it's a tiny Tourism market, with a maximum of only eight incoming International flights a day. Eight. I bet all our perceived competition get that in two hours. With low volume travel come higher prices, or no discounts.

Let's get back to branding Belize for what it is, a small eco destination that is exclusively different - from the Reef to the rainforest steeped in history and all visitable in the same day. Exclusive costs more, get the GOB on board with policies that keep us in this bracket and attract people willing to spend a little more for a holiday with lot more. Leave mass tourism to the rest as we can't do justice to that and focus on what we can control.
Posted By: LaraTravelBelize

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/08/10 06:15 PM

i organized a Familiarization Trip for the Canadian Institute of Travel Counselors. - Travel Agents. Nothing but travel agents. The very people that will help sell us to clients, direct link to revenue.

Great trip, it would have cost them almost nothing once they were here.

We had dozens apply to come.

only THREE (3) are coming.

These are travel agents remember...and only THREE are coming. The rest backed out due to one and only one thing: AIR FARE

If travel agents cant manage to find a reasonable price to get here, and when they are here were only spending a tiny fraction of what a traditional tourist would pay, and we could only get THREE, how can we expect to grow tourism?

Spoke to BTB..."we know" is the response. I'm not sure what needs done here...but something does.
Posted By: chris45

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/08/10 06:53 PM

Phil I hear what you are saying, but branding or re-branding is not the answer. The people who ever they are still have to fly in, and will not if the cost is too high.
Like it or not (I don't) the BTB and BTIA are charged with the responsibility to address the problem not (with due respect)to skirt around it by re branding, or bringing in South American tourists, or other groups.
If their response to high airline prices is"we know" then the next question should be "what are you doing about it?"
read again what Lara (great name btw) says above. She sees the problem head on.
Of course this is a small destination. but most hotels and resorts are empty. Thats WHY its a small destination!
I do not support the "Cancun" type of destination, and i agree that we should do what we are best at-attracting eco tourists. but between AC with its more conventional holiday offerings, and the more specialised eco resorts on the mainland we should be able to offer sufficient beds to make Belize a viable destination in terms of ticket prices.
Posted By: Northern Canuck

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/08/10 09:24 PM

Roatan has only 2 US carriers landing there. Continental on Fri Sat Sun and Delta on Sat yet the price can be lower than to BZE. AA and USAir do not go to RTB.
A few years ago in Grenada the hotel/condo rentals etc had to guarantee so many sold seats for the US carriers to start to fly there direct. Now they have a tourist industry, not huge but growing.
Maybe the GOB does not want mass tourism to take over it's cayes and that's why they don't figure out a way to lower prices.
Posted By: chris45

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/08/10 11:23 PM

No Northern Canuck, GOB DOES want mass tourism. That is why they are encouraging cruise ships to disgorge thousands of passengers into southern Belize. That is also why they have allowed uncontrolled growth of hotels on the Placencia peninsular.
Your point about Roatan just proves that lower prices can be achieved with the right will and determination.
But hey, which would you rather do, go to battle with the primarily US carriers AND the GOB to reduce air fares, or sit in your office writing marketing proposals and popping off to nice expensive junkets around the world to "encourage' tourism?
No-brainer-huh?
Posted By: Keller

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/08/10 11:36 PM

That's pretty much how I see it too chris45.
Posted By: Northern Canuck

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/09/10 12:23 AM

Chris you forgot to mention how the GOB has allowed all the building on AC yet refuse to tax the owners a 'reasonable' tax so as to raise cash to improve the country (education, health care, infrastructure etc). I thought the cruise ships went to Belize City and most if not all have to ferry cruisers in since there is no suitable dock. I may be wrong... I don't know Belize's cruise ship schedule but during the winter Roatan has 7 or 8 ships Tues Wed Thurs docking in Coxen Hole and one cruise line (Carnival I think) has built it's own docking grounds, tourist accomodation area, beach, mini mall etc. in another part of the island for it's ships only. Honduras has also proclaimed (but not implimented)the Bay Islands as a tax free zone to promote tourism. To my knowledge nothing like the above has been done in Belize.
Yes taking the easy way is a no brainer for sure...
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/09/10 12:26 AM

Thank God the cruisers don't come to Ambergris Caye!!! That would be the end....
Posted By: Barnacle

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/09/10 12:35 AM

you are so right!
Posted By: chris45

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/09/10 12:54 AM

Jesse: don't count your chickens...any government that can seriously consider drilling oil wells off your shore can certainly send the cruise ships in.
Northern Canuck: Good point about raising taxes.Yes the cruise ships DO go to Belize City only, at present. but there are rumours of plans to send further cruise ships south to Placencia, Big Creek, and Punta Gorda. Of course we don't know for sure. because it's all top secret.
well Carnival is said to be buying up shorefront property in Placencia, a channel has been dredged off Big Creek and plans to improve the dock in Placencia are being discussed.
Placencia will soon have its very own casino, with all that brings with it, so at least the cruise ship tourists will have somewhere to go.
I agree with Phil. This is NOT the way to go. but it is not our decision apparently, nor does the publics view matter. In fact were it not for PCSD's efforts via Mary Toy, we would know even less than we do.
So please guys, don't sit back and think for one minute it can't happen on AC. It can.
Posted By: elbert

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/09/10 04:03 PM

Cruse ships where given permission to come to San Pedro by central government several years ago. They constructed a 10 ton mooring anchorage directly in front of town and tried to ferry from the ship their passengers across the reef via the Tuffy Cut. The damage to the reef from the mooring attempt is still there.
The Tour Guide Association raised major objections, however the rough weather and difficulty getting smaller transport boats through the cut was the major factor in their discontinuing their visits.
Were safe from Cruise ships docking only because of shallow water and physical difficulty approaching the town from sea, not from central governments sensitivity to our concerns.
Posted By: shuffles

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/09/10 04:10 PM

Oh yeah, and didn't they lose a couple of cruise ship passengers during their snorkel trips?
Posted By: elbert

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/09/10 04:13 PM

They where forbidden to visit Hol Chan by the Hol Chan Marine Reserve , again nothing to do with Government, stopped only because Hol Chan had the power to stop their visits.
Posted By: Amir

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/09/10 05:06 PM

LCL is understandably frustrated and so are many expats whose governments are considering cutting retirement benefits. If we do not have tourism, there are not enough jobs. Those who don't work enjoy the dining and shopping that is only possible because of the tourist dollars which keep these businesses afloat.
Recently, more businesses have shut their doors. How can that be good?

Its too late to make this island a low volume tourist destination. Costs always increase and business needs to keep pace with rising costs through growth. The current policy of doing nothing to remain a viable alternative with other tourist destinations leads to the downward spiral in jobs, services, and quality of life.

Posted By: Phil

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/09/10 05:23 PM

Originally Posted by chris45
Phil I hear what you are saying, but branding or re-branding is not the answer. The people who ever they are still have to fly in, and will not if the cost is too high.
Like it or not (I don't) the BTB and BTIA are charged with the responsibility to address the problem not (with due respect)to skirt around it by re branding, or bringing in South American tourists, or other groups.
If their response to high airline prices is"we know" then the next question should be "what are you doing about it?"
read again what Lara (great name btw) says above. She sees the problem head on.
Of course this is a small destination. but most hotels and resorts are empty. Thats WHY its a small destination!
I do not support the "Cancun" type of destination, and i agree that we should do what we are best at-attracting eco tourists. but between AC with its more conventional holiday offerings, and the more specialised eco resorts on the mainland we should be able to offer sufficient beds to make Belize a viable destination in terms of ticket prices.


I didn't say rebrand Belize I said reinforce it's current brand. You say you hear what I'm saying and then just carry on your own path without thinking. What do you want the BTIA and BTB to do they haven't already tried. How much clout do you mistakenly think they have. They've been to the States lobbied the airlines. What can they do. I imagine the airlines turnover more than Belize's GDP so if the airlines say that's the price like it or leave it what can be done? Not much I think other than carry on trying and in the meantime get ouur house in order on things we CAN control, crime, corruption, litter, public relations, training, etc.
Posted By: chris45

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/09/10 08:31 PM

Phil. I apologise. You did not say rebrand. Despite your flame, I do indeed agree with much of what you said.
However I repeat that whoever comes on holiday to Belize whether eco tourists or "conventional-type' they will still be put off by high airfares relative to surrounding countries as they are right now.
The BTB is the government department charged with overseeeing and promoting tourism in Belize, and the BTIA is the tourist industry's trade body. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Many people think that high airfares are the single biggest factor in incresing tourism. I happen to agree and my experience in my own resort here bears out what others have said.
Of course all the things (crime,litter training etc) you mention are important, here we agree again.
My point is that the BTB and BTIA are those we must look to. I do not accept there is "not much" to be done about airfares. That is the counsel of despair.
Posted By: Amir

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/10/10 12:10 AM

When I suggest all that Belize can offer to some of my wealthy friends who love to travel, their response is often, "Sounds great, how much does it cost to fly there?" They expect to be treated right, and a lousy airfare is a bad way to start a vacation.

Offer them some credits for a companion fare like the Bahamas and they will follow through. I agree with Chris- doing nothing about a problem we all recognize is not acceptable.
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/10/10 02:19 AM

Amir, 'come on, give me a break. Wealthy friends NEVER say "how much does it cost to fly there" Cheap folks like me do.....
Posted By: Amir

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/10/10 12:45 PM

Cheap folks like you and I may take the bus. Losing a lot of time is worth it to avoid the high air fare.
Posted By: Phil

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/10/10 06:40 PM

Chris it isn't a flame or personal attack and apologies aren't necessary as you haven't offended me. This sort of dialogue is only good if carried out in the right manner as it might find the solution. What do you expect the BTB to do? Stop and think about it.

The GOB, be they red or blue, are in the stay in power get votes business, full stop. That boils down to money in the populations pocket, so they're happy and vote them back in with education, hospitals, social services, etc important, but probably secondary. Money means jobs. Jobs in Belize equate to Tourism, the single largest Industry employer - at a guess.

The flight prices ARE an issue and I promise you GOB know this as it's linked to the above and could help solve a lot of their problems if they could attract more visitors. As you say they would be in the mass tourism business if they could be and hence their welcoming of Cruise Ships, hated by the overnight tourism businesses. So they do recognise this is an imortant issue and still the prices are high.

If you have the solution I'd love to hear it, and more so, so would Mike Singh and Junior Heredia.
Posted By: chris45

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/11/10 12:46 AM

OK I've stopped and thought about it. What do I expect the BTB to do? To focus on air ticket costs and start by answering some questions, such as:
1. The PGIA has been enlarged Why was this done?
2. Since PGIA was enlarged what changes has this made to the volume of incoming air traffic?
3. Is it true that PGIA has not been approved for larger aircraft movements because certain legal obstacles inside Belize have not been resolved?
4. And if this is true, why have they not been resolved?
5. Exactly WHAT are these legal obstacles and who has to resolve them?
6. What steps IS the BTB currently taking to address the issue of high ticket prices?
7. Has the BTB considered some form of subsidy and if so what were its findings?
8. Does the BTB accept that uncompetitive ticket prices is probably the single biggest obstacle to growth in tourism?

In summary, Phil, to answer your question about what I expect BTB to do, I expect them to acknowledge air ticket prices as the heart of the problem (if they believe that, hence question 8).
I fear that BTB have labelled the question too difficult and moved on to other options. That does not solve what I believe to be the key issue.

As for the cruise ship issue, BTB's own research warns that this is a path strewn with pitfalls, which up to now we have seen no evidence that the BTB is prepared to acknowledge
I don't pretend to have the answer, I would just like to feel confident that Mr Singh and Mr Heredia acknowledge the problem. Without that we are going nowhere.
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/11/10 02:41 AM

From a frequent visitor standpoint, I would not like seeing the island grow anymore than it has. In the 10 years since I first was there, it astounds me as to the number of condos that have been built. As with anywhere, with more people, come more problems.

This topic is a double edged sword. And, why would anyone want to take a cruise ship to Belize? Never understood that as there are hundreds of things to see and do on land. If it were me, I would get off the ship and stay for a while! smile
Posted By: Phil

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/11/10 06:07 PM

Chris you donít seem to have yet got your head around the intricacies of living in one of the smallest countries in the world, and it's lack of income. A huge percentage of the population struggle to put food on their plates, have electricity or running water, a school to send their kids. Sorry but lol at subsidsing the airlines given the state of our finances unless it's done privately.

Your fear is correct because there is nothing they can do except what they already have/are. Lobby. How else do you tell someone, that you have no leverage over, that your prices are too high. Make an appointment with Mike Singh CEO BTB and talk to him. I was in your camp until I sat and listened to him one day at a meeting here in San Pedro. Yes he could be full of it, but what he said made logical sense.

I'm not saying give up, but face the reality it's going to be decades until it changes. I AM saying in the mean time lets concentrate on the things we can control and change RIGHT NOW.

Not certain on this but I think PGIA is completely privately owned. They extended the runway so physically Jumbos, or long haul jets can land. They have now done what I imagine they had to contractually in the purchase. However, no airline on the planet will fly big jets here until there is a hotel large enough to overnight the whole plane in case of problems. We don't have a single hotel that big. That will take a major player to build and they won't come because..........yep there are no large jets flying in to fill up their rooms.

Stay small, nimble and agile and offer more and something different. I like less people paying more and so do these type of tourist. Yes airline prices this high and are not good for business but I'd rather have them high than at Cancun prices - silver lining in everything.

Nowhere else can match us in Belize if we market it right. Yes we're probably at or even past saturation point. Those that are preparing to open new ventures better look long and hard and have a plan as should all the existing.

I hope you don't feel I'm picking on you and many others will also blindly or ignorantly (harsh word, take it in the right context please) blame BTB BTIA - even GOB
Posted By: Northern Canuck

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/11/10 06:17 PM

I am not one for increasing the tourism in San Pedro either, I feel it is already overdone. Phil, why can't the GOB increase land tax on foreign ownership to generate cash to improve schools health care subsidize flights etc. These guys were lucky enough to live in a country that allowed them to make big money and then buy a condo (probably as an investment) at a steal in Belize and then pay unrealistic taxes on it. GOB does not have to increase taxes on it's citizens just the owners who use Belize as a playground... Am I missing something???
Posted By: Phil

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/11/10 06:27 PM

Not sure it's constitutionally legal to charge one part of the population more than the other.
Posted By: CaptOneIron

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/11/10 06:33 PM

Norther Canuck I don't know who you are but increasing taxes always leads to less of the product you are taxing. Is that what you want less people living here and paying taxes. What you are missing is your common sense. Like most people you are more than willing to tax the other guy and spend his money. If you are so concerned about these problems why don't you donate some of your own money?
Posted By: Phil

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/11/10 06:39 PM

Bit harsh, it's a common and popular option, if just to help locally with infrastructure etc.
Posted By: Northern Canuck

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/11/10 07:33 PM

I think it's called fairness. Wealthy (relatively speaking) people coming to a 3rd world country and benefiting from it yet not willing to pay a fair price for doing so while seeing the poor education system the health care system and lack of infrastrucure does not seem fair to me. That is just another form of colonialism... What are the guys who own condos/houses going to do? sell their properties because the land tax is now a little higher but still much less than in the US, Canada, Europe or other Caribbean countries? I doubt it. They will keep their property and still enjoy Belize.
Not sure about the constitution (I'm not a lwayer)but I'm sure they can add a tax to foreign investment/land purchase and if the constitution says they can't they must be able to change it. I doubt the citizens who get to vote would dump a gov't for trying to improve their lives by getting non-citizens to help pay.
Capt., I have donated...
Posted By: chris45

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/11/10 11:32 PM

Phil I live in Toledo. I am well aware of the poverty and the difficulties of living in a small country.
I am the first to admit that solving the airline ticket price issue is not going to be easy. however it IS the biggest issue IMHO, and therefore needs to be adressed by those responsible for our tourism industry. it does not cease to be an issue just because it is difficult.
I accept it may take a long time.
PGIA is privately owned, correct. that in itself raises issues.
i would very much like to see the airlines bluff called on this hotel accomodation argument. i wonder how many hotel rooms we would need to have to satisfy them.
its this chicken and egg argument that BTB should be addressing.
instead of which a second international airport has been allowed (well, sort of) which will so they say be flying in jets from Europe. it seems that the hotel room argument does not apply to them.
Your idea about staying small, nimble and agile is right. however we have to remember that wonderful as Belize is, we have competitors at lower prices. GOB at least does not agree with you, otherwise why have they allowed the wholesale development of condos and hotels on the Placencia peninsular, and why are they promoting the expansion of cruise ship tourism to southern Belize?
Sorry, Phil we are not going to agree on this. BTB are responsible for tourism in Belize. High airticket prices are IMHO a major barrier to increased tourism, ergo it is their responsibility.Period.
Posted By: Amir

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 01:46 AM

Are the folks at these agencies working as hard as these times require cranking out those press releases, slide shows, websites, blogs, tweets, facebook, videos, and every other means of promoting tourism?
Airlines are making a profit because they have cut service. Why not lease one of their idle planes during season, paint BELIZE AIR on the side and shuttle it to Florida, Texas and other feeder airports?
The companion ticket makes sense politically too. In theory, the paying passenger is bringing along extra tourism.
Many good ideas are expressed here and business people know doing nothing is a recipe for disaster. The cost of keeping the doors open goes up every year.
Chris has got the energy to hang in there, but I understand why folks close up and leave. If the government is going to lay down and quit on improving air transportation, it might be wise not to invest any more money in Belize.
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 02:37 PM

I question how much control Belize has over airfares. But, they certainly have control over the experience visitors have once they come to Belize. Over development, lack of infrastructure and out of control crime are areas where the future of Belize is in more peril than the cost of the airline ticket.
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 02:53 PM

Originally Posted by bywarren
I question how much control Belize has over airfares. But, they certainly have control over the experience visitors have once they come to Belize. Over development, lack of infrastructure and out of control crime are areas where the future of Belize is in more peril than the cost of the airline ticket.


bywarren, I agree. The experiences are why we keep coming back and why we pay the high airfares (which a lot of potential tourists would not know until they go). Not to mention to current economic crises which remains stubborn....Most folks are cutting back so the price of a ticket to Belize would not be considered over other, less expensive destinations. Interesting to note: my flight to Belize this coming Thanksgiving holiday is already full!
Posted By: Hon

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 03:30 PM

There has to be a reason that the Sunwing all inclusive package out of Toronto to La Placencia lands in Roatan and then flies its customers to Placencia via Maya Island Air. My guess, since the flight only to Roatan (with Sunwing's Champagne service) is priced at $445CA, is that the Honduras government is controlling the cost of bringing tourists there.

I have been vacationing in Belize for 2 to 4 weeks each year for the last 6 years and absolutely love it there. Unfortunately, since we are not wealthy, often bring our sons and their families and invite friends and family to join us, we have to take the increasingly expensive flight costs into consideration.

For next January, with the possibility of saving about $1700 to $2000 on airfare for the family, I'm looking into Roatan...and I'm not happy about it frown
Posted By: Phil

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 04:52 PM

Chris, I think we do agree to a point, just that you think BTB should be able to get the prices to drop and I don't see how.

Posted By: Barnacle

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 05:09 PM

my wife just made reservations from BZE to chicago.RT
as it is broke down,
airfare is 445$
fuel surcharge is 240$
then a bunch of 20-30$ taxes and fees for a total of 778$
Posted By: chris45

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 05:31 PM

I don't know the ins and outs of airline fare structures, so I don't know how this issue can be solved. My thesis is simply that if you have a problem, however difficult it may be, it is going to sit there forever and remain a problem if nothing is done.
If your car won't start, leaving it at home and catching buses to go to work each day isn't solving the problem. The car is still sitting there.
In this particular case, most people seem to be agreed that high airfares are a major (perhaps the major) barrier to future tourism growth.
All I have done is ask myself "whose responsibility is this?"
Clearly we have to look to our trade association (BTIA) and to the government department who looks after tourism (BTB). Nothing contentious there.
What I object to is futile attempts to improve tourism by (eg) encouraging South American tourists, cruise ship tourists, etc. this is IMHO just re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
No the problem is not an easy one. Like Phil I don't know the answer, but one thing I do know is that this will continue to be an issue until it is resolved.
Posted By: CaptOneIron

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 07:01 PM

Originally Posted by Northern Canuck
I think it's called fairness. Wealthy (relatively speaking) people coming to a 3rd world country and benefiting from it yet not willing to pay a fair price for doing so while seeing the poor education system the health care system and lack of infrastrucure does not seem fair to me. That is just another form of colonialism... What are the guys who own condos/houses going to do? sell their properties because the land tax is now a little higher but still much less than in the US, Canada, Europe or other Caribbean countries? I doubt it. They will keep their property and still enjoy Belize.
Not sure about the constitution (I'm not a lwayer)but I'm sure they can add a tax to foreign investment/land purchase and if the constitution says they can't they must be able to change it. I doubt the citizens who get to vote would dump a gov't for trying to improve their lives by getting non-citizens to help pay.
Capt., I have donated...


You don't have to be a lawyer to understand that what you have suggested is the exact opposite of fairness and more importantly when you generalize about groups of people you are on, as they say, the slippery slope towards...... You have no idea how the people that can afford condo's and the like made their money and frankly the fact that they have more money in no way gives you a license to steal from them. What about the people that have a beautiful full head of hair? Will you pull enough of their hair out and pass it around until everyone has the same amount.
Remember the parable about the fish and teaching a man to fish rather than giving him fish. If you really wanted to do something that would benefit the country then start a business, train your people, punish harshly any theft or unethical treatment and work hard to unseat any politician that attempted to interfere with your endeavor.
Taking from others is never the solution but only the genesis of even bigger problems.
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 07:28 PM

Sounds just like what our government (OTO, hopefully) is doing!
Posted By: Barbara K

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 10:04 PM

Phil - I am with you 100%. Belize took a major wrong turn when it allowed cruise ships, unregulated building of hotels and condos, and tried to get into the mass tourism game. The small unique, expensive, off-the-beaten-track eco market would have done much better for everyone in the long run. Quality vs quantity - Belize sold out and now will have to pay the price as the economy keeps tanking, and the people with major money don't want to come to a "mass" tourist place (and a fairly poorly done one at that, with no real luxury services and amemites save at a very few places). When you have the $$ to go anywhere, Belize does not even make the cut anymore, like it used to when it was unspoiled and unique. Only a few places like the FFC resorts, Cayo Espanto, maybe Chaa Creek & Chan Chich, maybe VH & Azul still retain the original high quality Belize attraction and service to match. Sad but true. Sure, lower airfare will help get bodies in beds but it's a whole different ballgame than what it was starting to be and could have been.... (just my opinion as a 30 yr veteran of the tourism biz)
Posted By: ron

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 10:20 PM

It was not so long ago, perhaps 2 or 3 years that foreigners had to pay the GOB 15% of the purchase price on land transactions as a tax, they reduced that to 5% perhaps they know something you don't. Locals only paid 5%. Perhaps one of the real estate brokers can explain why they changed that tax. I also spent about $300,000 US to buy my property and build my house. That's more than most tourist spend in a lifetime of vacations to Belize. All that money was spent in Belize and employed Belizeans. I think I've done a reasonably amount to improve the local economy.
Posted By: chris45

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 10:28 PM

Yes Barbara K. dead right.
I just hope that you did not misinterpret the debate Phil and I have been having as a debate of Quality v Quantity.
Absolutely not. High value High quality low volume is definately the route to go. My point about airfares is that EVEN at the high end of the market, our ability to compete is being damaged by high airfares. Even some of the higher price eco tourists are not coming here now.
The big question is-is it too late? I fear that GOB has made it clear they will encourage anything even casinos if it pulls more people into Belize. I am opposed to mass tourism in such a small country with such small but beautiful natural resources.
Phil is right. lets hope someone in Belmopan is listening.
Posted By: Amir

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 11:14 PM

You can get fares on a number of beautiful vacation destinations just by pushing a button.
People don't visit the cozy offices of their travel agent for an explanation of why they should pay the highest fare.
On the previous page, a post from Hon says he doesn't want to stop vacationing in Belize, but the fares are thousands more than a flight to Roatan, so it looks like he'll be going there instead.
Low volume that would close dive shops, restaurants, stores, and services may be on its way, as an unintended consequence of having airfares that discourage visitors from coming.
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/12/10 11:46 PM

Not true about flights to Roatan. Just was looking. RT to BZE is $518, RT to Roatan is $779, Continental.
Posted By: Amir

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/13/10 02:18 AM

Originally Posted by Hon
There has to be a reason that the Sunwing all inclusive package out of Toronto to La Placencia lands in Roatan and then flies its customers to Placencia via Maya Island Air. My guess, since the flight only to Roatan (with Sunwing's Champagne service) is priced at $445CA, is that the Honduras government is controlling the cost of bringing tourists there.

I have been vacationing in Belize for 2 to 4 weeks each year for the last 6 years and absolutely love it there. Unfortunately, since we are not wealthy, often bring our sons and their families and invite friends and family to join us, we have to take the increasingly expensive flight costs into consideration.

For next January, with the possibility of saving about $1700 to $2000 on airfare for the family, I'm looking into Roatan...and I'm not happy about it frown
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/13/10 02:31 AM

Airfare for a family is a lot more than airfare for one traveler, obviously. The fare I posted above is accurate and current for today on Continental's website. Must also take into account the time of year. Fares are generally cheaper during the summer months. Fares in January are high season, so it is to be expected.
Posted By: Hon

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/13/10 12:20 PM

Sunwing is a charter. They fly to Roatan (non stop I might add) only in high season.

Sunwing flew to BZE for 3 years (I went with them each year they did so) and offered packages in Belize City, San Pedro, San Ignacio and Placencia. For the broken out flight to Belize, I paid anywhere from $425CA to $575CA.

Last year Sunwing stopped going to Belize. I flew USAirways and paid $750CA...and that's only because I had the patience to wait until 3 weeks out for the prices to come down from almost $900 on all the American carriers out of Toronto. Of course, if one is staying in San Pedro, one must add in the cost of getting to and from the island itself.

Sunwing, which is one of Canada's premier charter airlines, continues to offer flights to Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and Venezuela. Why not Belize?
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/13/10 12:24 PM

Landing fee's, fuel cost ?
Posted By: Northern Canuck

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/13/10 01:34 PM

I think Sunwing also goes to Roatan. As I posted earlier flights can be cheaper to Roatan than Belize or more expensive (depending on the airline) but you will make up that extra cost by lower food/booze prices, transportation, lodging/condo rental and you don't have the extra flight from BZE to San Pedro. Roatan has only 2 US carriers (Continental and Delta) flying in on Fri Sat Sun in the winter.
Posted By: Hon

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/13/10 01:47 PM

Originally Posted by Ernie B
Landing fee's, fuel cost ?


In other words, things that the government of Belize can control.

...and either Northern Canuck doesn't know that Roatan is in Honduras or he has me on 'Ignore' smirk smile
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/13/10 01:50 PM

How could anyone ignore you, sweet thang smile
Posted By: FlowerChild

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/16/10 05:21 PM

You can get cheap flights to Belize if you go during the "off season". Fares are reduced when traveling on specific days so always play around with the days of the week and check out many of the different websites (priceline, expedia, aa.com, orbitz). Do fare allerts which can keep you posted as well. If you really want an adventure, try flying into Mexico (cancun) and then take the bus into Belize, from there book your tropic flight or go by boat to one of the cayes. Also check out flights from DFT or Miami to Belize and then take a different airline from your home destination to DFT or Miami. If you know how to play the game, you can often get good prices. If you are a frequent traveler, make sure you sign up with one of the airline programs (ex. American AAdvantage) to get credit for your miles. You can also accumulate miles throughout the year by signing up for the AAdvantage CitiCard, shopping at specific stores, and eating at specific enrolled restaurants. All on the website. Good luck, happy travels.
Posted By: ron

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/16/10 06:38 PM

Last time I checked the fares were the same whether I traveled to Belize on Dec. 28th or Sept. 2nd. Slow season or off season doesn't always yeild cheap seats.
Posted By: BZMollyBrown

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/16/10 09:59 PM

My husband and I try to travel to A.C. Belize a couple of times a year. One of the factors that determine if we fly is the taxes and extras charged by Belize. Even when the airlines have discounted fares, the additional charges make the fares cost prohibitive. Those charges nearly double the overall fare.

If Belize is serious about attracting this type of visitor, the Tourism Board should reconsider some of these fees.
Just a thought.
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/16/10 10:12 PM

Unfortunately the Tourism Board doesn't have any say in these fee matters.
Posted By: BZMollyBrown

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/17/10 01:20 AM

I probably misspoke there. I'm not sure which entity (or entities) would have control over the different taxes, charges, etc. that are tacked onto flight costs. But these charges do increase a flight to Belize substantially and should be looked at to secure future tourism.
Posted By: Phil

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/18/10 08:46 PM

Yet again - Almost all of these fees are nothing to do with Belize and those that are are in line with most places. Every country has security fees, exit taxes, different environmnet taxes etc. Many US visitors do not relise that the exit tax you pay departing Belize is also a tax the US charges foreignors but not it's citizens.
Posted By: Amir

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/19/10 01:38 AM

Chris - I was hoping you would gather support from smart business folks and tourists reconsidering their plans because of the high fares. Hon and Molly have verified your contentions that high airfare is driving away our loyal visitors and future business.
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/19/10 02:40 AM

For the past 10 yrs , I have traveled to SP in Feb, not this year, air is close to $700, BB has raised their rates that make it fiscally impossible.
Posted By: lovey and thurston

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/19/10 04:22 AM

For the past 2 years our kids and grandkids have not been able to afford coming down. At $900+ per ticket for a family of 5 that is a huge expense and doesn't even factor in diving, fishing etc. They have gone to Mexico, Hawaii and Dominican Republic all inclusive for less.
Posted By: Luvinlife

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/19/10 04:25 AM

Agree with both E and Lovey and Thurston. What a shame.... love BZ but when it is cheaper to go elsewhere on vacation, it makes sense.
Posted By: reaper

Re: Why Belize Suffers in the Tourism Business - 07/19/10 04:39 AM

I am trying to attract a large group of European skydivers to extend the boogie and make it into a three week event. The airfare and what they have to go through is making it nearly impossible to happen.
The regular jumpers that come down nearly every year all commented on the price changes.
The crime isn't doing my business any favors either. I have had some concerns noted by participants that have been following the news in Belize.
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