By BBN Staff: The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) is concerned that the new amendments to the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) Act, presented in the national budget, could raise departure taxes, thereby seriously hurting Belize’s tourism industry.
BTIA President Osmany Salas, told BBN that the departure tax is comprised of four separate fees: $30 ticket tax, $7.50 conservation tax, $5 security fee and a $36 airport development fee, for a total of BZ $78.50 (US$39.25). The new amendment will raise the conservation fee from BZ $7.50 to BZ $40, with the additional $32.50 going straight into the consolidated revenue fund.
Salas explained that the new conservation fee would push the total departure tax from US $39.25 to US $59.25 (BZ $118.50). The increase would give Belize one of the highest departure taxes in Central America, and could have a negative impact on tourist arrivals.
“Other countries that have tried to implement higher departure taxes have eventually rescinded them after outcries from the tourism industry stakeholders,” Salas explained.
Salas added that increasing the the conservation fee would be a good idea if any such increase actually went to the different conservation bodies, which manage reserves and national parks; however, that is not the case with the new amendments.
The BTIA is expected to make a public statement later today. Sources have also indicated to BBN that Southwest Airlines, which just recently landed its inaugural flight from Denver to Belize, also have concerns about the new increase to the departure tax. Other airlines are also reportedly concerned about the development.
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