Belize’s tourism sector has been soaring, creating more jobs and positively affecting Belize’s GDP. However, Belize’s tourism-driven economy can have a negative impact on the environment. Last month, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System was removed from UNESCO World Heritage Centre List of World Heritage in Danger. The question remains whether or not the government can continue to safeguard the environment to ensure that Belize stays off the list. Dr. Omar Figueroa, the Minister of the Environment, says it is all about striking a balance.
Dr. Omar Figueroa – Minister of the Environment: “One of the key things we’re working on is revising the Environmental Impact Assessment Act, the EPA, The Environmental Protection Act. We’re trying to revisit all the details of how the environmental assessment is conducted. I believe that the government; we do understand and we believe that the environment is extremely important for us. We have a tourism industry that is based on the environment and so we need to strike that balance. We just can’t lock up everything and preserve everything. We need to make sure that we use the resources that this country has and to allow us to develop in a manner that is sustainable. People come in to Belize to see the environment, to go up into the protected areas, to go into the marine environment. There has to be some level of development if we are to attract tourism. It’s about striking that balance.”
Belize was on UNESCO World Heritage Centre List of World Heritage in Danger for nine years.