Saturday, July 20, 2024

Business & Economy

Islanders warned about price gouging during hurricane emergencies

During the ongoing monitoring of Hurricane Beryl, the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) branch in Belize Rural South (Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye) is reminding the public that price gouging (raising prices on goods) during an emergency is illegal. They encourage residents to report any instances of price gouging by establishments as Hurricane Beryl approaches Belize.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve’s new park fee remains undecided

The proposed increase in entrance fees at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve (HCMR) from US$10 to US$20 has sparked controversy among tour operators and tour guides. They have voiced their concerns, questioning the HCMR management about the 100% increase and the need for a proper justification. HCMR has responded to these concerns, explaining the process that led to the new proposed entrance fee. It's important to note that the US$20 entrance fee was not a unilateral decision by Hol Chan but a collective one following a meeting with the heads of the associations representing tour operators, tour guides, and sports fishers, ensuring transparency in the decision-making process.

Cost of living still high; basic food items affected

The cost of living continues to be a dilemma for many Belizeans as prices for basic goods have increased nationwide. According to the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), consumer prices for April were 3.9% compared to last year. Basic staples such as a 16-ounce loaf of bread recently experienced a 20% increase. In San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, the price of bread sold in packs of 17 and 22 ounces remains unchanged; however, other food items have slightly increased due to the cost of transporting goods to the island.

Hol Chan Marine Reserves address issues with in-water structure fees at Secret Beach

The Hol Chan Marine Reserve (HCMR) has expanded over the years and now includes marine areas within the popular Secret Beach northwest of Ambergris Caye. Regulations restrict water structures in marine reserves. However, at Secret Beach, an agreement was made between HCMR and the stakeholders where they suggested a fee to keep the water structures. This agreement limits the amount of structures in the water and requires the use of environmentally friendly materials for building. A fee of $100 per structure per month was agreed upon. Some businesses have complied with this fee, while others have not. Hol Chan has indicated that this non-compliance is causing issues, as some establishments have fallen behind on payments, resulting in high arrears.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve holds public meeting regarding park fee increase

On Wednesday, June 12th, tour operators and guides from San Pedro and Caye Caulker met to discuss the proposed fee increase at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve (HCMR) from US$10 to US$20. The attendees acknowledged that operational costs are rising and were open to an increase but requested a detailed analysis justifying the 100% raise. The HCMR management agreed to conduct a thorough study and provide a report to the stakeholders by Wednesday, June 19th, regarding the proposed fee hike to access the marine park.

Ministry of New Growth Industries Reactivates Hemp Industry Oversight Committee

The Hemp Industry Oversight Committee reconvened to discuss pivotal developments in the hemp sector, including the role of agencies in monitoring hemp developments in Belize and legislation. The Committee also reviewed an application for hemp research. A key focus of the meeting was the policy for approving hemp for research and investments in Belize.

Closure of the Queen Conch Fishing Season

The Belize Fisheries Department hereby informs all fishers and the public that, in accordance with Statutory Instrument No. 54 of 2012, the Honourable Andre Perez, Minister of Blue Economy and Disaster Risk Management, will declare the Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) fishery closed at the close of business on June 9th, 2024. This is necessary due to the realization of the Queen Conch production quota for the 2023-2024 fishing season.

Tourism stakeholders discuss Hol Chan Marine Reserve’s new increase in park fees

On Tuesday, May 21st, tour operators, tour guides, fly-fishing guides, and other business community members in San Pedro Town convened at the Lion's Den to discuss the increased fees to use the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Hosted by the San Pedro Tour Operators Association (SPTOA), and led by President Roberto Canul, the discussion in the public meeting heard most of the attendees disputing the increase, which was not yet official, from US$10 to US$20 to access the famous reserve. Many of those opposing the increase demanded a proper justification for such an increase and a public meeting with the Hol Chan management to understand the need for a 100% increase.

Belizeans endure the impact of scheduled power outages

Over the past weeks, Belize has grappled with planned power outages, a measure Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) is taking to stabilize the national grid and meet power demands. Despite the challenges, BEL is diligently working to minimize power interruptions and enhance its self-sufficiency in electricity generation, especially after its primary provider from Mexico reduced the supply. However, these necessary actions have not been without consequences, with disruptions to daily life and the commercial sector in areas like San Pedro Town and Ambergris Caye.

Belize Bank opens a branch in Caye Caulker

On Thursday, April 18th, Belize Bank Limited (BBL) marked a historic occasion as it celebrated its new branch's official inauguration in Caye Caulker. They are thrilled to become a part of the vibrant community and, as a team, are dedicated to an exceptional banking experience. The newly inaugurated branch is located on Couples Street.

Market days in Central Park are ideal for local artisans

For many years, the San Pedro Artisan Market was located in Central Park, where many set up shops to display their products to tourists. In 2016, the then San Pedro Town Council (SPTC), under the administration of previous Mayor Daniel Guerrero, moved the artisans to its current location on Angel Coral Street. Unlike the old days when visitors were greeted by the artisan market, today they can find signs guiding them to walk from Barrier Reef Drive (front street) heading west until they reach the third street of downtown to the “back street.”