A Statutory Instrument is scheduled to be signed into law by Minister of Tourism, Hon. Mark Espat concerning the regulations of Tour Operators. The Belize Tourism Board (Tour Operators) Regulations, 1999 defines tour operators, licensing criteria, duties of license holders, lists offences and penalties and establishes a regulatory committee.
It states "tour operator" as meaning: "a Belizean citizen, or permanent resident with the business of tour operator defined as his occupation on his permanent residency permit, who falls into one of the various categories" of tour operators; or "an entity which is controlled by a majority of Belizeans or permanent residents of Belize, or a company whose majority shareholding is owned by Belizean citizens or permanent residents, which falls into one of the various categories" of tour operators.
Various categories of tour operators consist of an individual, company or entity that:
1) "operates and markets tour packages internationally, and also executes complete tour packages ... within Belize ... ",For the purpose of these regulations there will be established a "Tour Operators Committee" consisting of nine members appointed by the Minister. The following are the number of the representatives and the organizations they will be nominated by: three by the local Tour Operators Association; two by the Belize Tourist Board; one by the Belize Tourism Industry Association; one by the Belize Hotel Association; one by a Tour Guide Association recognized by the Board; and one by the Minister at his discretion. It states the Minister shall ensure that all tourism destinations are adequately represented.
The functions of the Committee will be to receive, consider and determine applications of license; provide advisory information and assist license holders in their functions; and to carry out the objectives of the regulations. This may include continuous revising of licensing criteria and developing rules/regulations for tour operator training and other related activities.
It follows that anyone wishing to be licensed must be 18 years old, meet all licensing criteria and submit an application form. Tour Operators who have been operating for a period of at least one year before the commencement of these regulations may obtain a license providing they submit proof and meet licensing criteria. Tour operators who do not fall under the specified categories may only operate in Belize if they utilize the services of tour operators licensed under these regulations.
The Statutory Instrument (SI) concludes with schedules for renewals of licenses, duties of the tour operators and offences and their subsequent penalties for any violations of these duties.
When contacted, the Belize Tourist Board informed that the SI could be signed as early as next week.
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