The proposed Act is two-part. The first 20 pages outline the Interpretation, Administration, Registration and Regulation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodations, Accommodation Tax, and General Information. The second section of the Act is entitled "Minimum Standards for the Tourist Accommodation Sector of Belize" and clearly defines and sets out the minimum requirements for the registration of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, community-based tourism establishments, camp sites, live-aboard vessels and religious/educational/research facilities.
The "Interpretation" section of the Act defines a "Hotel meaning any building containing:
a. not less than ten bedrooms for the accommodation for reward to guests;Part One, the section on Administration defines the duties and responsibilities of the Registrar of Tourist and Hotel Accommodations.
b. one or more kitchens in which meals may be prepared by persons having the management or ownership of such building for the guests accommodated for reward; and
c. one or more dining rooms shared in common by all guests accommodated for reward in which meals may be served by such employees as aforesaid to guests; or
d. any group of buildings, whether cottages, bungalows or otherwise, situated within the same precincts, served by a common service and together not less than ten bedrooms for reward of guests. Provided that within the precincts in which such a group of buildings are situated is:
i. one or more kitchens in which meals may be prepared by employees of the person having the management or ownership of such buildings for the guests accommodated for reward; and
ii. one or more dining rooms shared in common by all guests accommodated by reward in which meals may be served by such employees aforesaid to such guests."
Part Two, Registration and Regulation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodations sets out the procedures for applying for registration and obtaining a licence to operate a tourist establishment, the duration of the licence, licence fees, minimum requirements (with regard to health, cleanliness and service), notification of rates to guests, registration of guests, maintaining books of account including monthly journals of foreign and local currency receipts and bank statements, and distribution of service charges to employees.
Part Three outlines the manner in which taxes are to be collected and the payment of Hotel Taxes, and penalties in default of payment of taxes.
Part Four sets out offences and penalties, suspension or cancellation of licences, proof of offence, and appeals.
The section of the Act which addresses Minimum Standards is divided into seven sections. Each section outlines the requirements each establishment must meet in order to be licenced and registered. The document is comprehensive and specifically addresses the manner in which all seven classifications of establishments will be operated and the minimum standards of quality that will be required for establishments to be licenced.
Minister Young has sent 12 copies of the proposed Act to the San Pedro Sun for distribution to island hoteliers and guesthouse owners so they may review the documents. A meeting to discuss the Act will be held in San Pedro Town in the near future. Please call the newspaper to make arrangements to review the documents.