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Long vacations in Belize just got more expensive

moonstone

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When people enter Belize for an extended vacation (you are asked at Immigration how long you are staying) your passport is stamped allowing you to stay for up to 30 days for free. Before that 30 day period ends, you must go to the local Immigration office and apply for another 30, 60 or 90 day stamp which had a fee of $50.BZ ($25US) per person (kids incl), per month. People who stayed longer than 6 mos had their fee jump to $100.BZ ($50.US) for each month after 6 months for the duration of their stay. Yesterday the Govt of Belize announced that as of May 1st the new fee will be $200.BZ ($100.US) per month with no increase after a 6 month stay. We often had to pay for another month when we were only going to be staying a week or so due to the way they calculate the days, and the fact that if your day to renew falls on a weekend you must get stamped before the weekend. They also counted the month of Feb. as 30 days even when it only has 28!

That is a huge increase (now $140 Cndn./mo each for us) so when planning next winters stay, if we can even go, we will be carefully planning our return flight date so we don't have to renew our stamp with just a few days left before our departure. We didn't mind paying around $30-35Cndn. each but an additional $100 each on top of that is a bit much for a few days or a week! The total cost of our visitors stamps for the winter is now getting close to the cost of 1 months rent for our apartment down there. The fees for applying for permanent residency and citizenship have also increased greatly. Belize depends on tourists, especially expat snowbirds, for much of their revenue and it seems like they have just shot themselves in the foot. :(


~Diane
 

Talent312

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I'm shocked and dismayed. That is a significant increase.
I wonder how it compares to other vacation destinations.
 

CanuckTravlr

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That is a steep increase, especially on top of the increased cost from a weaker Canadian dollar. One of two things will likely happen.

Enough snowbirds will vote with their feet and stay home, go elsewhere, or go for a shorter time period. If that happens the government may be forced to rethink their strategy.

Or, enough snowbirds will decide their vacation in Belize is too important to them, or that it is still good value, and decide to suck it up and just pay the higher fees. In which case, the government may have guessed right and the fees will stay. Or they may even be encouraged to increase them further, if they think demand is somewhat inelastic.

The government may also have a hidden agenda in mind. They may be trying to increase turnover by discouraging longer stays. Under the old rules, if you went down for four months it cost you $75 USD per person. Let's say to offset that increase you now only go for two months. It now costs you $100 USD. But the other two months' accommodation is theoretically now available for another tourist at another $100 USD. So for the same time period the government now pockets $200 USD instead of just $75 USD.

Only time will tell who wins this battle.
 
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LannyPC

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...especially on top of the increased cost from a weaker Canadian dollar.

That's what's making a vacation of any length, long or short, more expensive in Belize. And that is why I do not intend to travel there or the USA anymore, at least until the Canadian Dollar can get to a more sane level.
 

moonstone

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That's what's making a vacation of any length, long or short, more expensive in Belize. And that is why I do not intend to travel there or the USA anymore, at least until the Canadian Dollar can get to a more sane level.

Yes the low value of our Canadian dollar does make vacationing anywhere more expensive than in the past when it was closer to par with the US dollar. The Belize dollar is pegged 2:1 to the US dollar and we can even use US currency (small denomination bills, no coins) while we are there. However our costs of spending 3 months down there are much less than us spending 3 months in Florida (my 1st choice) even with our poor dollar. There is no way we can rent a 1 bedroom apartment beside the sea (the bay) with all utilities included for $550.US ($775 Cndn)/ month anywhere in Canada or Florida. We also have free storage for our bikes, a gas BBQ and some Rubbermaid totes for the time we are not there. We can both have a nice meal (incl. beer) in a restaurant for around $10.00 to 15. US total. Groceries, as long as we don't need imported US products, are cheaper than at home. I can not get chicken breasts for $0.75 or .80 US/lb even in Florida.

We have looked at vacationing in Canada many times, and would love to see more of our country, but the higher airfares (we can fly to Miami or Belize cheaper than to Vancouver, even with the currency difference), higher hotel/motel and restaurant costs, make it cost prohibitive for us at this time. The weather in Canada isn't so great in the winter anyways. So next winter we will suck it up and pay the higher fee for our 2 month visitor extension unless we win the lottery and can afford to go somewhere else to escape the cold and snow.


~Diane
 

TravelTime

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Maybe the Belize government realizes what a good deal people are getting in Belize and they feel they need to get a bigger portion of the proceeds?

It sounds like Belize is still a better deal than going somewhere else.
 

CanuckTravlr

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Maybe the Belize government realizes what a good deal people are getting in Belize and they feel they need to get a bigger portion of the proceeds?

It sounds like Belize is still a better deal than going somewhere else.

I would agree with that assessment. I am sure the Belize government has some bright people working for it who can also do the math and that is exactly what they are counting on.
 

PigsDad

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There is no way we can rent a 1 bedroom apartment beside the sea (the bay) with all utilities included for $550.US ($775 Cndn)/ month anywhere in Canada or Florida. We also have free storage for our bikes, a gas BBQ and some Rubbermaid totes for the time we are not there. We can both have a nice meal (incl. beer) in a restaurant for around $10.00 to 15. US total. Groceries, as long as we don't need imported US products, are cheaper than at home. I can not get chicken breasts for $0.75 or .80 US/lb even in Florida.
That sounds great. What city or part of Belize do you winter? Any issues w/ crime or safety?

Kurt
 

moonstone

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That sounds great. What city or part of Belize do you winter? Any issues w/ crime or safety?
Kurt

We stay in Corozal, which is 10 or 12 miles south of the Mexican border on the Bay of Chetumal (named after the Mexican border town 1/2 way up the bay). It is a small non-tourist town, with quite a few Canadian and American retirees living or wintering there among the locals . Many rivers empty into the bay so the water is brackish and crocodiles as well as dolphins can be found in the bay. Corozal gets less than 1/2 the annual rainfall as the central and southern part of Belize so it has less bugs, snakes and other critters.

There is crime all over Belize but aside from the gang crime and murder in Belize City, most of the crime in the rest of the country is poor people stealing things to sell so they have money for food or drugs. The minimum wage in Belize is $3.50BZ or $1.75US/hr. and most people need every penny they make for food and bill paying. We have not personally experienced any crime but know many expats who have had thefts of articles or home invasions for the purpose of stealing, and a few expats have been murdered fighting for their belongings during home invasions. We don't go out to bars in the evening or drink a lot when we are out with friends in the daytime. When DH goes to the bank ATM to withdraw our rent money, I stand on the sidewalk to make sure nobody is hanging around watching through the window or waiting for him to come out. I have only had to signal to the security guard at the bank once in 5 years due to a sketchy looking guy watching DH through the bank window from across the street. The guy was on a bicycle and I'm sure if DH was alone he would have been robbed on his way back to the apartment. When the security guard called the guy by name and gave him a stern look, he took off in the opposite direction, this was around 11AM. As with anywhere, we are very aware of our surroundings and never carry more money than what we need for that day. I leave my diamond rings and good jewelry at home and just wear my "Walmart" wedding band and jewelry down there. We feel quite safe walking and riding our bicycles around town.

There are luxury resorts in the tourist towns of San Pedro, Placencia or other areas, but to me that is like staying in Orlando and saying you've seen Florida! We prefer to live amongst the locals in their small town.


~Diane
 
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