Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2022. 5:00 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: A Breaking Belize News (BBN) reader has informed us of an apparent scam ongoing at the Northern Border that ensnared a foreign couple yesterday – they were apparently illegally charged to enter Belize from Chetumal.
According to the reader, she was conducting business at the Immigration Department office at the Western Border on Tuesday, and while in line the husband and wife told their story to our reader, saying that they were charged 58 U.S. dollars ($116 in Belize currency) to enter Belize at the border coming from Chetumal, Mexico.
A cursory check with the officers at the Immigration desk confirmed that no such fees exist, at which point, the couple realized that they had been scammed. They unsuccessfully requested to have the usual $30 departure fee waived but this was not possible. When asked, they were unable to name or describe the individual who scammed them and had no official receipt or record of the transaction. They have since left Belize.
Our reader condemned the scam as a “pathetic representation” of the country to tourists who have come here to enjoy our treasures and spends hundreds if not thousands of dollars on food, accommodation, and entertainment. If people feel they are being “soaked” beyond their expectations, then they will share that negative experience with potential tourists to the Jewel and add a stain on our glowing reputation.
The collection of the departure fee and associated “PACT tax” for long-stay visitors of $7.50 is managed by the Border Management Agency (BMA), which falls under the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation and not Immigration. We were unable to reach the head of that statutory body, former CEO for Tourism Yashin Dujon, late this evening for comment but have left a message for him.
It is not known whether security at the borders includes surveillance cameras or even official signs detailing what fees are and are not charged to visitors – specifically, that no fees of any kind are charged to visitors entering Belize, only to those leaving it.