Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Entry and exit from Melchor de Menchos and Belize on Guatemalan side. This has since been expanded to a new building with open counters.


While there is turmoil in the internal tourist traveler and overnight visitor tourist business in the transport system of bus service around Belize for the tourist trade. The UDP Government has not moved with the times. The traveler and backpacker low budget tourist is no longer what they remember from their youth. Since the 1980’s in the Yucatan Peninsular and since 2001 in all of Eastern Guatemala, many roads have been built and asphalt paved. In the Yucatan this occurred after the nationalization of the Oil Industry in Mexico back in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Fast smooth transport was the new rule in the Yucatan. In Guatemala, this transformation occurred starting in the 1990’s, but was completed by 2006. Only Belize is lagging behind, but this is due to the OIL business just building in Belize. Probably we will get better road systems after the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012. From whoever has the next political term.

There are bottlenecks in the Belize internal bus transportation system, for tourism development. The numbers of overnight tourists are rising. I remember when 30,000 tourists were the magic barrier for tourist arrivals back in the 1970’s. Now we have over 200,000 tourists and the number is going to increase to a million, if the Cabinet Politicians make the right policy decisions. There is both a mix of low budget traveler explorers and middle class tourism using, or trying to use, the old fashioned colonial style, school bus transportation system in Belize.

The biggest bottleneck is at the Western Frontier, between Benque Viejo and the Immigration point. A distance of 2 miles. This used to be a 2 mile hike on a dirt track one time. We just had a group of 8 French backpackers arrive in Santa Elena Town by bus, who had to HIKE our paved asphalt highway in the hot morning sun, those two miles to catch the bus service in Benque Viejo Town. They could ride in buses for 300 miles in Guatemala for this $30 fee being charged by the monopoly of taxi drivers at the Western frontier. This is not only ridiculous, it is reminiscent of back when I was younger in the 1960’s and had to do that hike every time I went across the frontier to Melchor de Menchos. That this two mile stretch lacks public BUS transportation in this 21st. century, between the border and Benque Viejo, is an atrocious thing. Not only does it show lack of comprehension by the authorities and their incompetence, of the constantly changing highway and transportation systems of our neighbors in both Mexico and Guatemala. The cruel descriptions on the internet of this 2 mile hike in the hot sun are turning away many tourists, who would otherwise visit Belize. For a country who has tourism, as one of it’s diversified economic legs of tax revenues, the idea of forcing people to pay $30 to a taxi driver from the frontier to Benque, or the twin towns, is not only highway robbery, it is hurting our tourist economy and ruining our IMAGE on the many chat forums around the world in 200 languages. Who ever dreamed up the taxi monopoly at the Western Border should be tarred and feathered and maybe burned at the stake? ( grin! ) Nothing can be more ruinous on the International Tourist talk forums describing Belize, and our retarded bus transportation system, than this 2 mile hike in the hot sun. For heavens sake, Transportation Minister, build the Belize economy, boost our Tourism service and product. Get the buses to go directly to the frontier Immigration point. There are only a half a dozen taxi drivers benefiting from this monopoly. Most of the time less, about 3 taxis. Who ever heard of damaging your tourism industry and product deliberately, by having this taxi association monopoly at the border for this 2 mile stretch. The times have changed. If not in Belize, they have changed in Guatemala and in Mexico. It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Transportation to facilitate tourism and make it easy and convenient and cost effective. We are competing with Mexico and Guatemala for tourists. Why did you pave this road? DO YOUR JOB MON!

What do I suggest? Cut out these half dozen TAXI ASSOCIATION monopoly on the Western Frontier, or let them COMPETE with the National independent bus services. Make it a requirement that Western Bus service MUST terminate at the Immigration station on the frontier, NOT IN BENQUE VIEJO. Times have changed, get with the changes. Why did you pave this section of road, if you don’t use it properly? Make it a license requirement of this bus run, to end and start, at the frontier immigration post.

There is a similar situation with the monopoly at the International Airport. The taxi monopoly to Belize City, is not that many drivers, but the fares they are charging and the lack of competition from buses is outrageous. People who can afford it will take the taxis, but others should have a choice, and overnight tourist visitors WANT the choice to be theirs. The customer is always right is the appropriate phrase. Cut out the monopoly. In fact, go one better and have a bus run from the International Airport out Western Belize. We need that bus connection service, to and fro from the International Airport and onward to Belize City. That dog leg through the BURREL BOOM cutoff is no longer some dirt muddy, side road shortcut, but a main asphalt paved, transportation communication link, joining the Northern, Southern, the Capital of Belmopan and Western bus systems. If you didn’t think so, why did you pave it? You need to figure out how to include bus service to the International Airport as a choice for arriving and departing passengers who want to save a few dollars, or skip the loss of time ( 2 hours involved ) forced upon them, by first having to go the extra 20 miles into and out of Belize City from the International Airport before going onward.

Lets move our tourism attractions and transportations system forward. It is PAST TIME to do so.

I’m not going to get into here the arguments of using licenses to improve the classes of bus service we have in our country. That has been covered in another article on the website Read it again !

If you the UDP CABINET do not make the policies and systems change with the improving conditions of the world, then you cannot expect us the PRIVATE SECTOR to do this alone. You the political party in power are in this tourist business with us. You want more tourists and more tax revenues, then do your part to help us serve our tourist customers. This is a partnership you know?

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