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Sargassum is back in the region

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Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2019. 12:59 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: According to Mexican media, Sargassum has returned to the region, with several prominent Mexican tourism destinations already being affected.

Sargassum has been seen on the beaches of the Riviera Maya in Quintana Roo predominantly in the following areas: Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cozumel, Puerto Morelos, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, Othón P. Blanco, and Bacalar.

Sargassum, which first appeared in Belize in 2014, has become a major cause for concern because of its environmental impact and the negative effect it has on businesses in the areas where it accumulates. Apart from ruining the aesthetic beauty of the beachfront, decomposing sargassum is accompanied by a putrid smell that makes being in the area uncomfortable.

Sargassum was such a problem in 2018 that the Government of Belize (GOB) had to resort to granting businesses 2 percent refund from the 9 percent hotel tax due, which is a 22.2% reduction on the monthly accommodation tax returns for all coastline properties affected by sargassum in the following four affected destinations: San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia and Hopkins.

GOB also agreed to waive import taxes for any business owner in the affected areas wishing to bring in material or equipment for the removal of sargassum. Business owners could get those exemptions by applying through the Belize Tourism Board (BTB). GOB also pledged some $1.5 million for BTB to assist the municipal bodies in the four affected areas with the containment and control of sargassum. 

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