Belize Tourist Board responds to Belize Times

Last week's issue (November 16, Volume No. 4079) of The Belize Times, the official organ of the opposition People's United Party contained an accusation headlined "BTB Covers Corruption in Hotel Industry." In the article the Times stated the BTB was " a state of crisis over the collection of millions of dollars of hotel taxes that are in arrears." The Times discussed the collection of hotel tax being awarded to accountant Cedric Flowers and then maintained that there "... is a thriving racket whereby hotel owners pay certain officials big protection money and then only send in to the BTB a small portion of the taxes actually due. This is done with the knowledge and approval of high level officials at the BTB..."

Private sector reacted this week with surprise at the seeming blanket condemnation of the hotel industry by The Times. This week, the BTB replied to The Times allegations as follows:

Press Release, November 18, 1997 - Belize Tourist Board - The Belize Tourist Board (BTB) was astonished at the propaganda headline on the front page of last week's issue of the Belize Times. It can only be said that it is yet another unscrupulous tactic of the opposition to create ill will against the government.

BTB announced to the hotel industry of the engagement of a private accountant to conduct the assessment of taxes collected from hotels. BTB does not and will not approve of any hotel who fails to comply with the law and report inaccurate taxes. The BTB staff has never been instructed not to audit a particular hotel(s) nor has the BTB hired an attorney to terminate the contract with Mr. Flowers. To say otherwise is an outrageous and blatant lie on the part of the writer. There is absolutely no evidence to substantiate such a false claim. Since the engagement of Mr. Flowers' services, the BTB had steadily and consistently been collecting taxes which had been in arrears.

As for the case with Programme for Belize (PFB), under the previous administration the BTB's policy was to treat it as a non-governmental organization which did not act in the capacity of a regular tourist accommodation but more as a learning center. BTB, under the current administration, continued with this policy in reference to all such organizations, however, as the new hotels act came into effect on October 1, 1997 and in keeping in its efforts to maintain a professional standard, the BTB decided that PFB would now have to be taxed as any other hotel would be since advertising and operations now clearly indicate same.

As the article poignantly stated, BTB is a statutory board. It has a professional staff which is committed to bridging the communication between private and public sector to ensure customer/tourist satisfaction.

If the Belize Times is intent on creating illwill against the government and its departments the least respectable and professional thing to do is to make criticisms and accusations based on facts.

Belize Tourist Board responds to Belize Times

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