Some three hundred hotels have closed their doors for good after being financially crippled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, the President of the Belize Hotel Association Ted Tejada told Love News that a majority of the association’s members have suffered deep financial ruin. According to Tejada over three hundred hoteliers have had to close their doors for good despite efforts made to salvage their businesses.
Ted Tejada, President, Hotel Association of Belize: “ I can personally tell her that we have seen some of our members completely closed doors forever. It is a sad day and there’s going to be many more before this is over the pandemic is not over yet. Out of 920 registered hotels prior to the pandemic the last number I had was more like 600 properties that re-signed or became a gold standard hotel that leaves us with about 300 properties that we don’t know what is their status at this moment. I do personally believe that many of those will not open, it is not feasible for them. During these last year and a half that we have had zero tourists they’ve really taken a pounding and financially they were not able to sustain it even though the financial institutions the banks give us a break, a moratorium on our loans this is not free money interest have been building over this year and a half so I believe many of them have had to sell and just pack up their bags and leave so definitely they have had many changes but we as an association we continue to work with our members we continue to see how we can facilitate them in order for them to open.”
While those hoteliers were unable to weather the storm, things are starting to look a little bit brighter for the remaining members. According to Tejada, over twenty thousand tourist arrivals are expected for the month of June which is good news for the local tourism industry.
Ted Tejada, President, Hotel Association of Belize: “Over the last year it has been the most devastating year for the tourism sector. We were the ones most affected I would say with the closure of the international airport on March 23 2020. There was zero tourists coming in until October 1st. We have seen a gradual growth. Upon opening of the airport we’ve seen a little bit over 3,000. The last statistics that I heard for June last month was over 20,000 tourists visiting our shores. That means that there’s a pent up demand in the United States because that’s the major market that is visiting Belize, of individuals wishing to travel to Belize. One of the advice that I believe we need to embark on as citizens is that this inflow of tourism can only occur if we the Belizean people become vaccinated. We see that the ones that are travelling to Belize now if you were to do a census more than 50% of them will tell you they’re fully vaccinated. They feel that this is the way that the economy will get back to normality once individuals are vaccinated. So we are urging not only the tourism sector in Belize but every citizen in the country of Belize in order for us to open the borders completely each Belizean needs to get vaccinated but that is not the fault of the tourism sector we’re encouraging all our employees and I believe the tourism sector has done its part. If I was to call these hotels many of them will tell me we are 90% vaccinated which is ideally what we want but we are asking the population of the country of Belize you also need to do the part because if the tourists don’t come to the country we don’t have enough foreign currency to buy the products that we need at your households so it’s necessary to continue promoting tourism. Belize is one of those thirty four countries in the world that has been placed on level 2 meaning that the risk of contracting the virus in Belize is very low so we must be promoting that, that the risk in Belize is very low but we also have to continue keeping the protocols, the guidelines that have been established and the vaccinations those are the three things that we are just singing to every Belizean that we must practice.”
Tejada also noted that he believes more visitors will be entering the country with vaccination numbers slowly increasing.