Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Tour Operators in the fuel subsidy program not to raise tour prices


It has been reported to the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) that some tour operators currently enrolled in the fuel subsidy program are raising the prices of their services. According to BTB, this should not be the case as the subsidy program assists them in coping with the increase in fuel prices and should not result in increasing their tour prices. Tour operators benefiting from the subsidy are not to take advantage of the program as such actions can have a negative impact on the tourism industry.
A BTB representative said tourism is rebounding in the country, particularly in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. They expect that the fuel subsidy program assists by mitigating some of the expenses, particularly in fuel prices. “We want tourists to get a good experience of Belize still, and they can leave with positive memories and return,” the representative said. The said reports of tour operators taking advantage of the program include establishments from San Pedro. Such statements may affect their chance of receiving assistance in future programs.
Fuel subsidy program
According to a BTB report, there are slightly over 350 registered tour operators in Belize. From this pool of businesses, only 185 applied for the fuel subsidy program. According to BTB, information submitted via an online application by May 13th was a guide to vetting the final decision. Successful applicants were notified. In addition, applicants were assured that their information was treated with the highest level of confidentiality.
The subsidies are being issued via fuel vouchers or cards. In the case of applicants on the Cayes, tour operators receive fuel vouchers. According to BTB, the vouchers can only be used for a specific boat/vehicle registered in the program by the tour operator. This is to assure fuel assistance is used appropriately. The subsidies were distributed according to the needs and size of the businesses. The BTB says that small companies may get up to 60% in allowances for monthly usage. At the same time, large tour operators are assisted with 10% or 12% of their fuel expenses. “In essence, the impact is being felt the greatest from the smallest to the biggest,” said a BTB representative. Since July 5th, the only fuel that has experienced a drastic increase is Premium Gasoline at $17.60 per gallon. Regular gasoline and Diesel, the main types of fuel consumed, remain at $13.91 and $13.82 per gallon, respectively.

Fifteen Tour Operators and three Tender Operators, who were the first set of participants to receive their fuel vouchers to access the subsidy, were also present.

The fuel subsidy program is funded by the Government of Belize (GOB)and the BTB. Both have contributed $1.5 million.
The fuel subsidy program will continue for the next five months. Ultimately, GOB and BTB will look at the program’s outcome. If there is a need to extend the program, the respective authorities will seek other ways to continue assisting eligible tourism stakeholders.

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