BTIA calls for repeal of departure tax amendment

By Benjamin Flowers
Staff Reporter

Following Tropic Air’s cancellation of three flight schedules due to departure tax increases, the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) is calling on the Government of Belize to repeal the amendment which gave rise to that increase.

The BTIA said on Thursday that the government must recognize the fragility of Belize’s tourism industry, and safeguard its future through the development and implementation of the right policies to promote sustainability.

“Tropic Air’s decision is sufficient evidence that tourism arrivals may be negatively impacted by the increase in the departure tax,” the BTIA said. “Belize must remain competitive regionally and globally to increase tourist arrivals and to promote the growth of the tourism industry.”
Last week, Tropic Air announced that it is suspending flights to Merida and Chetumal, Mexico and San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Steve Schulte, CEO of Tropic Air explained that the airline could not maintain those routes under the current economic and regulatory conditions
As part of GOB’s measured consolidation in the 2017/2018 Natonal Budget, the Government implemented two amendments to gain more revenue: requiring all statutory boards to contribute 10percent of their 2017/18 income to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and an amendment to the Conservation Fee that is charged as part of departure tax.

The amendment increased departure taxes from US $39.25 to US$59.25. There are four separate taxes that make up the departure tax: $7.50 conservation tax, $5 security fee, $30 ticket tax, and a $36 airport development fee, totalling BZ$78.50 (US$39.25). The amendment raised the conservation fee from BZ$7.50 to BZ$40, and sent the additional $32.50 straight into the consolidated revenue fund.

The BTIA said that GOB should have launched an in-depth study of the impacts and effects of those revenue measures, along with consultations with industry stakeholders.

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