The office of Ambergris Today received many emails and phone calls from concerned residents and non-residents, about the issue that non-residents will not be given Boat Captain Licenses.
Based on information received, we understand that now Boat Captain’s Licenses are required for private boat owners. Those concerned believe that this creates obstacles for our foreign owners that are here periodically. The Belize Port Authority had announced that these licenses will only be issued to citizens and legal residents, but not to any foreigners or even those on Retirement Residency.
The Ambergris Caye Chamber of Commerce sent letters to the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) and the Belize Port Authority addressing this matter with hopes of receiving a positive response and a clarification and in response the chamber was informed that Retirement Residents will be allowed to take the Boat Captain’s License Exam.
According to Anthony Mahler from the Belize Tourism Board, the Port Authority did clear some of the issues and said that the BTB did not commission any legislation that deals with the licensing of any private citizen. All regulations that have been passed have been for commercial operations only.
This should be a major issue for the developers and real estate sales offices, since not being able to drive your private boat in a place like Ambergris Caye greatly diminishes its attractiveness to those that love the ocean and are considering buying here.
A local businessman explained to Ambergris Today that for the short period of time that this was announced the island lost a potential resident and boat buyer. He told us that a certain individual was planning to purchase a boat from his business after having plans to purchase property and build a house on the island. Because the investor was told that he was not going to be given a boat captain’s license for him to operate his boat, he terminated his business transaction here in San Pedro and moved to Mexico.
This new regulation could have greatly hindered the tourism industry on the island since most tourists who own condos on the island own boats as well and would not have been able to get captain license to drive their own boats. Not allowing people to have the right to drive their own boat, whether by sail or motor, will destroy the attractiveness of our country to investors.
“Under Port’s regulation, everyone who drives a boat must have a captain’s license,” stated Anthony Mahler. “This is similar to driving a car. This same rule applies for permanent and retiree residents who can also apply for a license. Tourists who come in can use their boat license from their country or in the case of operations like TMM; they can show their cards that certify their clients.”
The Chamber of Commerce is one of the entities that is continuing to work on allowing foreigners to be able to apply since Belize is now requiring licenses, and most other countries do not issue these licenses for private boat owners.