What about hotels? Are they ready to take tourists when they start coming back to our shores? Belize Hotel Association President Ted Tejada says that resorts, inns, and hotels are more than ready.
Ted Tejada, President, Belize Hotel Association: “We had over a year and three months to prepare. The international airport in Belize closed March 23 2020 and at that point in time the Hotel Association was the first one to come over and launch the protocols for safety. Eventually it became the Gold Standard Protocols and I believe the Government of Belize made a good choice in saying the only hotels that will be able to house external international guests were hotels that had a Gold Standard certification. That actually prepared us for what was coming down the road. We have seen a small growth month over month. Put it this way, we had a little bit over eight thousand in January, eight thousand five hundred in February, and in March we saw close to sixteen thousand guests. When you look at that that’s a 44% jump from February to March and in April we also crept to sixteen thousand. I believe that May is going to be around the same figure and you are now tapering into the slow season because it’s summer in the United States but what we saw is that none of the hotel employees ever got infected from anybody coming from abroad and that can only be attributed to the protocols that were established when the Gold Standard was established. So I think it was the right thing to do. I think that every hotel in Belize that has a Gold Standard certification is completely prepared to host any international guest or any Belizeans guest as a matter of fact.”
However, when tourists arrive, they will have to check into places that have achieved the BTB’s gold standard of approval. Tejada added that there are hundreds of hotels that have the critical endorsement and there are some that are soon to come on board.
Ted Tejada, President, Belize Hotel Association: “The Belize Hotel Association has a seat on the Belize Tourism Board and so what we have done we have asked several months ago to lets look at the hotels that have not gotten the gold certification and let’s do a survey why they have not done it. It doesn’t mean that it has to do with financial assistance that they need it means that sometimes a hotel could no longer survive if you are performing anywhere below 35%. Your break even point is 35% so if you’re going to open your doors and you’re going to continue operating let’s say at 10-15% for another six months it really didn’t make sense for you to open your doors because you will continue losing money. The hotels that were struggling because they needed financial assistance to get a gold standard certification the Minister of Tourism has agreed that the Belize Tourism Board will be assisting these hotels so we have a team at the Belize Tourism Board who is doing a physical survey of these hotels and finding out is it that they want to open but they don’t have the finances to get it done and assist them or do they just don’t want to open because it’s not profitable at this point in time? So I can share with you that we have close to six hundred hotels that are gold standard certified. We had up to last week about sixty eight hotels that were in the pipeline and that we are processing but I believe that by the end of this month we would have 90% of the hotels that are willing to open already certified with the Gold Standard Certification.”