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BHA President hopes GOB’s amnesty for Air BnB’s evens the playing field

The Government of Belize is contemplating a three-month amnesty for rooms and accommodations in the tourism sector. Those individuals who offer their homes on Air BnB, for example, may qualify for this tax forgiveness. It’s something that the larger properties hope will even the playing field. We asked the Belize Hotel Association’s President Reynaldo Malik to speak on the subject yesterday. 

Reynaldo Malik, President, Belize Hotel Association: “There’s always going to be a bit of a conflict between the established hotels and resorts and Air BnBs and other long term stays or at least properties that portray themselves to be long term stays but they’re really just finding loopholes in the law that allows them to put that up but in reality they’re maybe renting for 3 months/ 4 months at a time when clearly the law states that anything under 12 months is considered short term stay and then you have to be registered with the BTB, duly registered with the BTB and you pay the 9% Hotel Tax on your rooms etc. In addition to that though, an established hotel, an established resort, a guest house, a lodge, we have major infrastructure investment that we do on a daily, weekly, monthly, annual basis that you don’t see Air BnBs having to do. When we build a hotel, for instance Mr. Tejada wants to do an expansion, he doesn’t just get up today and decide that the Biltmore is going to do an expansion. He has to do load assessment. He has to talk with BEL and see how that’s going to impact the load in this particular area. If he decides to do some entertainment in his backyard, he borders a residential area, he has to realise how that’s going to impact the people around them. Air BnBs, for the most part, have none of these restrictions on them. They just decide my downstairs is going to be an AirBnB tomorrow morning. So, you know on an annual basis, again, or bi-annual now, we have to go through the licensing process. The BTB comes out. We get audited, etc. There are other requirements that we have to, when we’re doing the licensing for instance, we have to go through Central Building. You have to work with the Fire Department. So all of these things that the AirBnB are not doing. Their investment is a lot less and then to hear that the Government is considering perhaps some sort of amnesty for them, I would think, and  would have to research it more exactly what it is that they are saying but I would think that the only way we would support that, and I use that term loosely, would be if the intent is to get them into the fold and make sure that they are paying their taxes duly into the Government and that they are meeting other requirements as well that would put them on par with the larger hotels and more established resorts around the country.”