Should Belize Consider Removing Passenger Taxes?
By: Charles Leslie Jr. | Public Relations Director of the BPP
According to the information I was able to find, the current Departure Tax in Belize is (broken down):
By land: The Departure Fee is BZ$30.00 and there's an additional fee called the P.A.C.T. (Conservation) fee of BZ$7.50 (if the visitor has been in Belize for more than 24 hours) making the total BZ$37.50. Payable in BZ$ or US$ (US$18.75).
If departing by air at PGIA, the total fee is BZ$78.50 (US$39.25).
It's broken down into:
Passenger Service Fee: BZ$30.00 / US$15.00 (all passengers)
Airport Development Fee: BZ$36.00 / US$18.00 (all passengers except citizens of Belize and Permanent Residents)
PACT Fee: BZ$7.50 / US$3.75 (all passengers over 11 years of age, except citizens of Belize and Permanent Residents)
Screening Fee: BZ$5.00 / US$2.50 (all passengers)
If not included in the ticket, it's payable at the airport in US currency.
According to a recent article in the Caribbean Journal, there are two players when it comes to making sure tourists have access to rapid, reliable airfare at reasonable rates, and those are: the aviation industry and the governments.
The article states: "The aviation industry is not really the problem. They have the equipment and the crews. They have fixed costs and calculate what is needed to make a profit. One could argue about how cost-effective they are and what is considered a reasonable profit margin. And that’s it. Yet, one should also consider the entrepreneurial risks they are taking."
The article went on to say:
"On the other side, you have the governments. For one, they have no risks in the aviation operation. Yet, they want a random tax contribution per passenger; no particular calculation. Mind that landing fees are different than taxes, and they do have a particular justification. So, what justifies the passenger tax? Inter-island or international, it doesn't make a difference. Related to tourism, a British journal once called it “A tax on all your dreams”."
It seems that logic would dictate that removing these taxes would allow airlines to offer cheaper airfare throughout the year to Belize, and thus increase overnight tourism.
"But, we would lose money?" The Minister of Tourism would cry.
The lost would be offset via an increase in overnight tourists flowing into the country, which would translate to more taxes flowing into the consolidated funds and BTB.
Belize is currently being out-competed, significantly so, by our regional competitors who have been investing heavily in their infrastructure, security and especially technology.
Investments which are making it easier, safer and more convenient for visitors to get around and enjoy their nation's tourism product, and also creating a conducive environment where hotels, tour operators, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses can continue increasing value and reducing cost, making their tourism product more attractive.
Visitors determine price, by deciding to visit Belize or the many other (more affordable) options available worldwide. Passenger taxes have simply become a repellent.