Wednesday, October 31st, 2018
The Government of Belize has granted $1.5 million to help contain and control of sargassum in the municipalities of San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia and Hopkins, which will be disbursed through the Belize Tourism Board. Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Hon. Manuel Heredia announced GOB’s assistance and other tax reliefs at a press conference the BTB offices in Belize City on Wednesday afternoon, October 31.
To help the affected coastline properties at these destinations defray the cost of fighting the sargussum scourge, GOB has also agreed to waive two per cent of the of the 9 percent hotel tax due which all hotels pay in their monthly accommodation tax returns, a 22 per cent reduction in tax for these resorts. This tax relief will remain in effect for the months of October, November, December 2018, through January 2019.
Furthermore, GOB through the Ministry of Finance is providing additional tax relief by way of duty exemption on all materials, equipment and machinery which the affected properties at these four destination may choose to import to address the sargassum blight.
The government decided to offer this assistance on the recommendation of the Sargassum Task Force (STF) led by Minister Heredia, BTB chairman Einer Gomez and BTB Director of Tourism Karen Bevans. With the high tourism season about to start, The STF had assessed the gravity of the sargassum problem during several visits to coastal properties around the country, during which they had consulted with the owners of these seaside resorts to work out a joint strategy to deal with the problem.
During these visits, the BTB team came to recognize that the owners of these blighted resorts have had to incur significant expenses in cleaning up and disposing of the sargasssum scourge, and to erect barriers to deflect the sargassum off their beachfronts, all of which have increased their operating costs.
The BTB has promised all interested parties that the STF continues to research and consult in find a long term solution to the sargassum blight, and will continue to seek new ways to address this situation. They promised to update all interested parties as new developments arise. The STF includes the National Emergency Management organization (NEMO), Fisheries Department, the Tourism minstry, the BTB, the Coastal Zone Management Authority, Ministry of Health, the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), the Belize Hotel Association (BHA) and representatives of the tourism property owners in San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Hopkins and Placencia, and these village councils.
Source : The San Predro Sun