B.T.I.A. Calls for More Spending on Tourism Destinations
On Wednesday night, we told you about the B.T.I.A.’s strong position on G.O.B.’s proposed revenue measures which include increasing the PACT fee, as well as taking ten percent of the2017-2018 income of some statutory boards like PACT and B.T.B. Executive Director of the B.T.I.A. John Burgos said that these new proposed measures will be bad for tourism, and to make matters worse there was no consultation with the tourism stakeholders. In the reading of the budget on Monday, Prime Minister Barrow pointed out that works on the Caracol road will take place with monies from the new budget – now this is one of those projects that tourism stakeholders and tourists would welcome because the road to Caracol has been in a deplorable condition and worsens during the rainy season. We asked Burgos if this is isn’t something that the tourist industry would like to see come to fruition as soon as possible – and something that they wouldn’t mind new revenue measures be used for. Here’s his response:
John Burgos, Executive Director, B.T.I.A.
“The STP II programme which is specifically for emerging destinations was officially launched and it was completed last year; which means that in the next five years up to 2020 they have thirty million dollars that are going to be used in Corozal, Toledo, and in the Chiquibul area which includes the Caracol. Those monies have already been secured through the I.D.B. So, what they are doing right now they are already on the feasibility testing stage and that road should be completed next year; so that is not an argument that we agree [on]. But looking at the bigger picture; that is one destination you are talking about. We have roads needs and infrastructure needs in all the other archaeological sites and protected areas and reserves. You look at the ATM cave in Cayo – that is one of the top tour attractions there and you look at the road leading to ATM has never received a proper upgrade. If you go there three to four times of the week, you are killing your vehicle. You are completely killing your vehicle. And these are some of the things we want Government to recognize. If they say, you know what, one of the reasons we are going to increase the PACT fee is to give the management agencies more funding; we want to be able to have more funding available for infrastructure needs for these destinations, then we have an argument; something that we can consider; that we may support. But, now you are telling us that you are just increasing that because our national debt is so much and we have to try and obtain funds to help to pay off some of the debts that we acquired over the years – that is definitely something that we believe is going to have negative impacts.”