Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2020. 8:40 am CST.
By BBN Staff: Since its inception in 2008, Airbnb has become a wildly popular means for travelers to book accommodations and for accommodation providers to secure bookings, but today the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) reminded all such providers that they need to have a license to operate.
Director of Tourism for the BTB, Karen Bevans, told our newsroom that the BTB has not largely had a problem with properties in Belize using Airbnb to market themselves, as the majority of them have ensured that their licenses are up to date.
“There might be some properties who are licensed and there might be some who are kind of doing it under the table. But of course, if caught, there is a big fine for that,” Bevans said.
Bevans explained that, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the BTB had been working with tourism industry stakeholders to weed out unlicensed properties and were largely successful in doing so. The BTB kept a real-time updated list of licensed properties that was easily accessible, and stakeholders were encouraged to report any property that was offering accommodations but was not on the list.
She added that the BTB took a three-pronged approach to deal with unlicensed properties: hosting an awareness campaign about licensing requirements, updating legislation to raise the fine for operating unlicensed accommodations to $25,000, and an aggressive enforcement campaign for licensing requirements.
“Of course, we are just reopening so we don’t know if it will be an issue, but we will be closely monitoring and working with stakeholders to ensure that only licensed properties are operating,” Bevans added.
A major issue with unlicensed properties as Belize prepares to reopen the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) on October 1, is the lack of the BTB’s Gold standard Certification, which means that a property has met the rigorous health and safety requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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