Monday, July 15, 2024

Local rates vs. tourist rates; no governing body to monitor this


Tourists have long complained about the double standards on transportation rates and rates for other amenities while visiting Belize. One of the more visible discrepancies is the difference between rates charged for water taxi transportation and taxi services to locals in comparison to what tourists pay. While this may seem unfair, there are no regulatory bodies in Belize that can prevent or monitor these inconsistencies.13 Tourist over charged for Transportation
In an effort to shed some light on the matter, The San Pedro Sun contacted several authorities that were believed to oversee rate standards. The first body contacted was the Belize Bureau of Standards. They are in charge of consumer protection but have confirmed that they have no say in the transportation rates being charged to tourists. The Bureau is the national body responsible for the preparation, promotion and implementation of standards in relation to goods, services, and processes, and their mission is to create equitable and non-discriminatory market conditions for consumers. While they are responsible for implementing price control on price regulated goods and services, transportation does not fall under their jurisdiction and thus hold no authority over those charging tourists a different price than locals.
The Belize Tourism Board (BTB), also has no control over tourists being over charged for goods and services. BTB is characterized as “a strategic partner in marketing the Belize tourism product; developing tourism initiatives and programs; and implementing tourism policies, to address the changing needs of visitors and stakeholders. The organization’s goal is to ensure socioeconomic growth of Belize through prudent, transparent and effective governance”. While they are the main governing body in the tourism industry they cannot set price controls on services and goods offered to tourists.
Not even the Belize Port Authority can regulate the price for service charged by water taxies. Their jurisdiction is limited to maritime safety, port security, licensing and registration of vessels, Belize port statistics, entry regulations, licensing of masters, port state control and regulatory oversight for ports.
The double standards may seem like discrimination, but nothing in the Laws of Belize prevent this from happening. Rates offered by private companies cannot be controlled and there appears to be no law in the books to prevent the act of price gouging tourists.
Tourists visiting Belize are encouraged to familiarize themselves with standard rates prior to their visit and inquire about fees prior to using a service. It is also recommended they determine if the price quoted is in US or BZ currency.

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