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Apr 20, 2009

Tourism stakeholders unhappy with new bus regulation

Story PictureWe reported April first that Cabinet had approved regulatory measures for tourism buses coming in from Mexico and Guatemala. The regulations came into effect today and are already presenting new problems to the tourism industry. The measures were designed to regulate the runs by Linea Dorado and San Juan buses entering Belize at the northern and western border points and make stops at the Marine Terminal. Local stakeholders have been up in arms that they are not allowed to operate in Guatemala and Mexico while the foreign operators can in Belize. When the buses made their scheduled stop at the Terminal today, tourists were left holding tickets and were unable to board because the new rules bar buses from picking up passengers. For some stakeholders, the regulations mean a loss of business.

Ramon Cervantes Sr., Representative, Linea Dorada
“It’s not going to affect my place who sell tickets, it’s going to affect the people in Caye Caulker, San Pedro, Placencia, it’s going to affect the water taxi. The less people you have to transport, eventually they make less money, they will fold. The hotels restaurants and other service providers for tourism in Caye Caulker, San Pedro, Placenia will have less people to attend to, eventually all those people, hotels, bars, restaurants taxis, snorkel operators, dive operators, boat operators. They will have less people and you will soon hear the cries from those people. What happens is that the B.T.I.A., who represents those people, has been is sleeping; we should have heard them long ago. The Ministry of Tourism is too soft. Sadly enough there was a family of five that came in this morning with tickets bought in Guatemala City from the eighteenth of April, they had return tickets and we were not able to put them on the Linea Dorada bus. We told them that they must take the local bus to Benque and then a taxi from Benque to the border and when they reach Melchor try to get a refund for that part of the journey from Linea in Melchor and then see if Linea in Melchor could accommodate them to get back to Guatemala City. So this is already having an impact on the foreign tourist. Those five people—those tourists are victims of circumstances.”

Glendy Palacios, Tourist of Guatemala
“It’s affecting us very much because we have had passengers that we need to take to Chetumal and Guatemala and we have had problems because I have had to give back money to people here in Belize and that is not good for neither Belize, Guatemala nor Mexico. I now have to take a bus from Novelo’s to Benque, then take a taxi to the border then take another bus to Santa Elena in Flores. It is very expensive for me and it takes up a lot of my time.”

Duane Moody
“So if anyone comes here to your store to buy tickets to go to Chetumal from Belize City, they won’t be able to do so?”

Ramon Cervantes Sr., Representative, Linea Dorada
“And I can understand that that is meant to protect the local carriers, but the foreign buses will not continue very long to bring the people here because they come one way, they may cover their costs coming here but they have to go empty, without picking up any. So they might decide this doesn’t pay; there’s no profit in it only losses.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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