Hotel Amnesty continues until the end of October
Unlicensed tourist accommodation properties have until the end of October to sign up for the Belize Tourism Board’s Hotel Amnesty Program. In effect, the plan is to have those apartments or apartment studio owners, those who have condos or vacation homes and room rentals on platforms like AirBnB to be part of the formal sector. The Registrar of Hotels is Denmar Villar, who explained.
Denmar Villar, Registrar of Hotels, Belize Tourism Board: “That’s a new law that has come into effect. The remission of her ears or the accommodation Tax Act of 2022 recently signed into law by the government that is giving the opportunity to unregistered properties in three categories of accommodations; apartment, apartment rentals, condominiums, vacation homes and home stays. That is giving the opportunity for those properties that have been operating for the past few years and since they’re not registered then obviously they’re not paying taxes so this is giving the opportunity for those properties to come to register with the BTB who is the regulating body and as the law says there will be a remission of taxes meaning that all taxes if they have been operating for three or five years that should have been paid will basically to be cleaned. They will be given a clean slate. So that is why here at the BTB we launched this campaign, the hotel amnesty program for those properties to comment to register.”
Love News also asked BTB Director Abil Castañeda to respond to concerns that transitioning to the BTB framework will not be as easy as those apartment owners expect, especially now that they are being taxed for their own private spaces. Here’s how he responded.
Abil Castaneda, Director of Cruise Quality Management and Capacity Development, BTB: “We have our teams ready to minimize that fear of bureaucratic processes that’s number one. Number two in the medium to long run we are also looking at how we can make it a little bit easier for all of our hotels and our accommodations to be able to license and relicense over the year because we are looking at that from a long term point of view. There is a sentiment that we need to sort of evolve the system and make it more streamlined and move towards a more of a quality based system rather than a regulatory based system as we have right now but that is in process. For the next three months or so we have our teams locked and ready. We have the attention, this is directly being administered by the registrar of hotels and we would be very happy to share whatever information or answer any concern that the industry may have. In fact maybe some of your viewers may say well I don’t know if I would qualify for certain maybe my property does not fall under the four categories if you are in any way doubting what you are able to get out of this program feel free to call the police tourism board at 227-2420 feel free to e-mail the registrar of hotels the e-mail is right on the application form and the Belize Tourism Board website and from there we will try our best to make sure that we can help you in that transition.”
The idea, the BTB insists, is mainly one of quality assurance because many times, those who’ve rented AirBnB’s have been given slipshod service. That’s why, the board can intervene and, where necessary, reprimand those who are damaging the Belize product with poor accommodations.