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Shyne Barrow: How you can justify spending $700,000 on foreign artists to promote Belizean tourism?

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Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2022. 8:43 am CST.

By BBN Staff: The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) will host its first international music and food festival in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye from July 30-31, 2022. 

The festival will have both Belizean and foreign artists performing; however, many questions have been raised about the compensation to the foreign artists.  

Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, Anthony Mahler indicated that the total budget for the festival amounts to around $750,000 and that there is revenue-generating potential for Belize’s tourism.

“We have to be able to compete internationally and so, I see this as an investment in our musicians.  I see this as an investment in the food component of our industry.  It is very crucial that we help to create a platform or platforms for these things to be infused into the overall tourism product on a high scale,” Mahler said during a media interview.  

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition, Shyne Barrow says that he cannot see how the Ministry of Tourism can justify spending $700,000 on foreign artists to promote Belizean tourism.

“People don’t want to travel to Belize to experience Jamaica or Trinidad. They come to Belize to experience everything that is uniquely Belize and we have some of the best musicians in the world. If you are going to spend $750,000 on entertainment, hire every Belizean artist and you have a festival from Sunday to the next Sunday. What has been given to all of those artists that couldn’t work for two years as they tried to recover but a tax? Right? A Trade License Tax: that was their gift. That was their COVID-19 stimulus package was a tax and then you have $700,000 to spend on foreign artists? It makes absolutely no sense and that is the people’s money and we demand that that money be spent on Belizean artists,” Barrow told Love News during an interview last week.

He further added that he is in disbelief that from the $750,000, only $40 to $50k will be paid to Belizean Artists.

“There are so many artists that have been left out from Orange Walk to Cayo. So, what is the true agenda here? Are we now using taxpayer dollars just to pay foreigners? I have never done that and I was an ambassador of music and the biggest artist I brought in was Popcaan at the height of his career and I paid for that, me Shyne Barrow, not the government of Belize,” Barrow added.  

Barrow also questioned why the Ministry of Tourism did not include Belizean bands such as The Garifuna Collective, X- band, Sweet Pain, and Gilharry 7 to perform at the festival.  

The UDP also issued a release reminding the Belizean people that the objective for such a festival is similar to that of the International Costa Maya festival which does not cost taxpayers any money and urged the government to redirect that same sum of money for true national events.

 

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