By Benjamin Flowers
The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), said this week, that the new changes in the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) Act, could raise departure taxes detrimentally high for the tourism industry.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow presented the proposed changes to the PACT Act during his reading of the National Budget, on Monday, March 13. The new amendment would increase departure taxes from US$39.25, to US$59.25.
BTIA President Osmani Salas, explained that there are four separate taxes that made up the departure tax: $7.50 conservation tax, $5 security fee, $30 ticket tax, and a $36 airport development fee, totaling BZ$78.50 (US$39.25).
Salas said that the new amendment will raise the conservation fee from BZ$7.50 to BZ$40, and send the additional $32.50 straight into the consolidated revenue fund.
He added that such an increase would give Belize among the highest departure taxes in the entire Central American region. He also pointed out that other countries, such as Costa Rica and the Bahamas, have raised departure taxes, but had to rescind them due to outcry from tourism sector stakeholders.
“On the other hand, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to raise the conservation fee so that the different organizations managing the national parks and reserves would have more money to get the job done,” Salas said.