Private Investigator: Time share rules and regulations
Q: Often times, I have noticed tourists walking down the streets minding their own business, when along comes a golf cart with a very enthusiastic driver asking them where they’re staying at and if they have heard of such and such place. I’ve noticed that there is a booth in Central Park but I hardly ever notice people going up to them, it’s often the reverse. One time I saw this guy run out and chase down some people! Even when tourists are straight to the point about not being interested, they keep insisting and our visitors often time seem so harassed. Is there some sort of rule or regulation in place for these “salespeople”? Shouldn’t they be in their booth? Isn’t there a better way to sell condos or timeshares without running off the few visitors we have on the island?
A: On December 8th, 2005, members of the Belize Tourism Board attended a meeting where they met with Time Share Operators (TSO) on Ambergris Caye. TSO’s present at the meeting were, The Villas at Banyan Bay, Captain Morgan’s Vacation Club, Aquamarina Suites, Seven Seas Resort, Costa Maya Reef Resort and the Belize Yacht Club (Island Club Resorts).
During this important meeting, the Off-Premises Contract (OFC) was thoroughly discussed and eight conclusions were reached. However, many of these points have not been taken into consideration.
The first point was: At any given time only two (2) booth attendants must be stationed at a booth with uniforms provided by the respective establishment.
(2) Each OPC must pay a registration fee of two hundred dollars ($200) and must be in possession of a valid police record. Records at the San Pedro Town Council revealed that out of the six registered booths, none have paid the abovementioned fee for any of their attendants. Not for 2006 and certainly not for 2007.
(3) Identification cards issued by the San Pedro Town Council must be worn by booth attendants at all times. These ID cards will be issued once a TSO has paid their $200 fee per attendant. Since, they have not paid; no attendant wears an ID tag.
(4) Booths must be inside a property and not on the street and each company may have a maximum of five booths. Booths paid for the year 2007 are a total of six, three for Costa Maya and three for Captain Morgan’s Retreat. These are all on private property, except for Captain Morgan’s who have one stationed at Central Park. They, however, received authorization from San Pedro Town Council to erect their booth there.
(5) Booth attendants can only carry on business 10 feet around the timesharing booth. Unfortunately, this is not the case as complaints have streamed in from tourists being approached on the street, on the beach and while riding on their golf carts through town. TSO are asked to please adhere to this rule in particular or face number 7 and 8.
(6) A fee of one thousand dollars ($1,000) must be paid to the Trade Licensing Board for each booth. This fee has been paid for the year 2007 by Costa Maya Resort and Captain Morgan’s Retreat. All other TSO planning on conducting business are asked to kindly visit the offices of the San Pedro Town Council.
(7) A penalty fee of two thousand dollars ($2,000) will be charged if the OPC is caught harassing tourists.
(8) A penalty fee of one thousand dollars ($1,000) will be charged if the attendant is carrying on timesharing business on a public domain.
These rules and regulations need to be abided by all TSO’s and OPC’s. The body responsible for enforcing the abovementioned rules is the San Pedro Town Council, as well as the Belize Tourism Board who conducts periodic inspections. Speaking with Wilber Magana of the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC), The San Pedro Sun discovered that SPTC has not fined any particular TSO or OPC since the rules were implemented. The Belize Tourism Board has attempted to fine a TSO but the result of it is unknown.
For further information, kindly contact Lloyd Enriquez, Registrar of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation at 227-2420.