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Oct 31, 2018

A Short-term Sargassum Solution

The seaweed epidemic which continues to affect tourism destinations across the country persists without a long-term remedy.  In the meantime, government has stepped in to provide relief to seafront businesses that are being affected by sargassum.  The initiative to make available one and a half million dollars for the cleaning up of four prime coastal locations comes ahead of the peak of the 2018 high season.  Aside from the monies that have been set aside for the effort, an additional two percent is being deducted from the hotel tax as an incentive for affected businesses to aid in the massive undertaking.  This afternoon, the Ministry of Tourism made the announcement.

 

Karen Bevans

Karen Bevans, Director of Tourism

“Last month, there was a massive influx of sargassum in four of our tourism destinations, namely: San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia and Hopkins.  A B.T.B. team, including our Minister of Tourism, the Honorable Manuel Heredia, our chairman of the board, Mr. Einer Gomez, and myself, visited the affected destinations and immediately began engaging with stakeholders on the issues at hand.  During those visits, meetings were held with stakeholders to determine possible short term solutions for both cleanup and containment of the sargassum in preparation for the high season.  Based on our consultation with stakeholders, we are pleased to officially inform you that the following assistance has been approved and will be implemented immediately to assist those properties which have been impacted by sargassum.  Two percent from the nine percent hotel tax due, which is a twenty-two point two percent reduction on the monthly accommodation tax returns for all coastline properties affected by sargassum in the four affected destinations of San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia and Hopkins.  The reduction in monthly accommodation tax is applicable for four consecutive months, namely: October, November and December of 2018 and January 2019.  In addition, the Government of Belize has agreed that coastline properties in the four affected destinations wishing to import sargassum materials and equipment can apply for duty exemption from the Ministry of Finance through the B.T.B.  Finally, the Government of Belize has also agreed to contribute one point five million dollars to assist B.T.B. in assisting municipal bodies in San Pedro, Placencia, Caye Caulker and Hopkins in the containment and control of the sargassum.”

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